The 3D printing at Mount Royal University’s Maker Studio opens up unlimited possibilities for students and staff alike.
This rapid prototyping technology has allowed for unique and innovative ways to teach and learn in university.
Items created with MRU’s 3D printers:
- Food trucks for demonstrating business proposals
- Bindings for books
- Rings as a demo
- Chess pieces
Read the stories of how Lars Peterson and Stian French used 3D technology to better their academic careers.
Some professors get a bad reputation for being “traditional.” Lars Peterson is not one of those profs. He chose to try new technology to enhance his teaching.
The biology professor used the 3D printers in MRU’s Maker Studio to print DNA models for his students. Lars created two types; a large, colour-coded model to use at the front of the classroom and detachable pieces of a DNA helix that can be used by students.
“The idea with this particular model is to get these small individual pieces into the hands of the students and allow them to play, work in groups, and figure out how to build it without me actually telling them how to build it.”
It took Lars and the Maker Studio the better part of a year to create the models before his students could use them in the classroom. Lars says that it took the 3D printers about 4,800 hours to print the 120 pieces that make up his full DNA helix.
Lars decided to use 3D models in his teaching based on, “…think[ing] about what would be useful for [him] if [he] was learning this stuff again.”
Even as a professor, Lars was able to learn something new about DNA because of his 3D models.
“I know for me personally, I have a better understanding of what DNA looks like and how it works based on playing with these structures and building them myself.”
Lars enjoys the convenience of the 3D printers in the Maker Studio and the ability to continually improve his models.
The 3D DNA models were just launched into the classrooms this semester, so Lars doesn’t know if the hands-on learning has an effect on the students’ grades. But he believes, “…anytime you can put something in the hands of students, you get that kinesthetic learning aspect going on, I think that’s a bonus.”
Lars knows that there are a lot of other interesting things that can be created with the 3D printers and he is certainly not finished using them.
One would think that 3D printing has limitations to the industries that use it.
A student in the Bachelor of Science challenged this idea by creating his own 3D printer to help better understand what he is learning.
Stian French loves to learn and wants to become an oral and facial surgeon, which is a 14-year educational process.
“…having a 3D printer is having another experience to help me to learn and it is a continual experience so I can…make new ideas and learning how that can work together too.”
Stian can think of times in his university experience that having a 3D printer would have benefited him.
“I was in an anatomy class and I didn’t have my 3D printer then but it would have been really helpful to find some 3D models of bones, different organs like the heart, and to print them out and be able to physically study them instead of looking at pages in the textbook.”
Stian used the MRU Maker Studio printers to make pieces to create his own 3D printer. Other than being a cool toy, Stian wanted his own 3D printer to be able to create ideas at his own pace.
“[It] allows me to have the freedom of doing it at home so if something just pops in my head and I want to start building something, I can go right to the computer and start creating the model and I can print it out and see what it looks like.”
Stian really hopes that professors and students will start taking advantage of the 3D printing that is available to them.
“I had a professor who was able to print out a strand of DNA and a protein that attaches to the DNA and so it’s one thing to see it on a piece of paper, it’s another thing to see a video of it, and then to take the protein and DNA and to attach them together and to see how exactly they fit was really cool.”
Stian hopes that his printer will help with his research opportunity in the coming years. For now, he is currently passing the creativity on by using his 3D printer to print parts for a fellow student’s own 3D printer.
Maker Studio 3D Printers
This is one of the 3D printers that the Maker Studio has at MRU. It is called a Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM. It prints each layer one on top of the other until you have the model.
This one is called a Stereolithography printer, also at the Maker Studio. It works with a lazer from the bottom hardening the resin to made the model.
Produced by Katelyn White