Auburn University partnering with Huntsville City Schools and U.S. Army to train the next generation of additive manufacturing professionals

Published: October 25, 2018
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Auburn University’s National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, or NCAME, has formed partnerships with Huntsville City Schools and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Command, or AMRDEC, to further education and workforce development in the field of additive manufacturing from high school through graduate-level training.

A signing ceremony to commemorate the partnerships was held Oct. 25 at Jemison High School, the site of one of two EOS M290 metal 3D printers owned by Huntsville City Schools. The second printer is located at Grissom High School. Auburn’s collaboration with the district will enable high school students and teachers to receive additive manufacturing training from its NCAME researchers at the high schools on their own machines.

"Huntsville City Schools is excited to become the first K-12 school district in the nation to join Auburn University’s NCAME as an education partner,” said Christie Finley, superintendent of Huntsville City Schools. “We look forward to the opportunity for our students to work on real-world projects with industry partners and participate in collaborative research activities.”

Auburn has a rich history of additive manufacturing research and development and was selected recently by ASTM International as one of the founding partners for a new Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence. In conjunction with NASA, the Auburn center was created to advance fundamental and applied additive manufacturing research through public and private partnerships and contribute to workforce development.

“This extraordinary public-private collaboration will help to grow tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce. NASA and the private sector will benefit from the resulting STEM-oriented workforce that is necessary for American innovation and competitiveness in additive manufacturing,” said John Vickers, principal technologist of the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA.

A core piece of the center’s mission is to advance STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—disciplines by engaging students and teachers in opportunities; investigate and develop technologies; and share facilities, capabilities and technical expertise. Additional high schools, community colleges and universities across the state may become partners with Auburn in the future.

“This partnership is a major educational milestone for NCAME in its effort to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers in this field,” said Nima Shamsaei, director of Auburn’s National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence. “To become proficient in additive manufacturing we not only need to learn the processes, but also to think and design differently—additively rather than subtractively. We want students from a very early stage, as early as high school or even middle school, to think differently and learn to design for additive.”

Auburn’s collaboration with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Command will also encourage student interest in STEM disciplines and recruit the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

“We at AMRDEC are eager to learn how this generation of students, unencumbered with traditional fabrication techniques, utilize this experience to launch innovative solutions to keep our Warfighters equipped with the best capabilities in the world,” said Col. Eric Rannow, AMRDEC military deputy. “The anticipation is the advanced research from Auburn, in conjunction with Huntsville City Schools, may play a part toward ensuring our military continues to hold a decisive advantage.”

The team will work together to strengthen student and educator STEM capabilities and maintain a strong base to enhance the caliber and pool of talented graduates.

“Additive manufacturing is a rapidly evolving field and it is crucial to join forces to accelerate innovation and education in this area,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “We look forward to working with those at Huntsville City Schools, AMRDEC and NASA to solve real-world challenges and train the next generation of additive manufacturing professionals.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.