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6 departments ripe for 3D learning

By Dr. Conor MacCormack
November 5th, 2015

Some of the country’s most innovative higher-ed programs are using 3D learning to boost engagement, prepare students for a new workforce.

maker-3D-learningAs institutions make room in the classroom (and within 2016 budgets) to add more technology to learning programs, 3D printing tools are at the top of the must-have list, especially for specific departments on campus.

According to colleges and universities, this technology is on the 2016 must-have list because 3D printing not only brings educational concepts to life for students, but supports next-level learning by developing more agile and creative thinkers.

For educators and administrators looking to enhance learning, here are five educational departments ripe for 3D printing, as well as insights on how educators can implement the technology into their curriculum.

Architecture / Interior Design

Imagine studying the architectural detail of the Roman Parthenon in full-color, high-resolution physical 3D. Architectural 3D printing in realistic color can give students a tangible perspective on scale, texture, geometry and overall understanding of design that 2D resources can’t provide.

In addition, exposing architecture and design students to 3D printing early on sets the stage for the future of building. Not only are design and construction companies using 3D printing to transform digital CAD drawings into real, tangible spaces, they’re also using 3D print capabilities to improve understanding of design intent and gain buy-in faster from all stakeholders. Familiarizing students with 3D print capabilities today sets the foundation for students to continue innovating the ways 3D printing will be used in future structural design.

Life Sciences

No matter the curriculum, all students learn differently and 3D printing is an effective way to help students use a wider variety of senses to connect the dots and learn subject matter. This connection proves most critical in helping life sciences and medical students understand the delicate intricacies of both human and animal anatomy.

When it comes to a medical education application, photorealistic color 3D printing gives a 2D X-ray or CT scan a third dimension, allowing emerging and existing doctors and their attendants to plan and practice on realistic models of the patient’s anatomy prior to surgery. Using full-color 3D printing has the potential to reduce a patient’s time in surgery and improve their outcome.

The Western University of Health Science uses 3D printing to produce realistic bone models, such as the skull, ribs, vertebrae and more, to help enhance veterinary and medical students’ understanding of body movement and its impact on health and illness. This type of visualization is important for helping these budding professionals more quickly identify, diagnose and correct medical ailments for future patients. Additionally, the use of a full-color 3D printer enables students to identify the realistic anatomy of bones, such as where muscle attachments and blood vessels are located.

(Next page: History, Fine Arts, Geospatial)


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