Learning doesn’t happen on the page alone. Reading and writing about a topic will not give you nearly as much depth of understanding as taking the knowledge off the page and applying it in the real world. With every topic, hands-on experience gives a greater foundation for deep learning than simply hearing a lecture. And, no matter the subject, there are activations with 3D printing that will engage the student and bring the topic to life. The Savannah College of Art & Design is an institution that has embraced this concept fully – incorporating technologies in the arts and likewise applying art and design to science. One of the best places that the arts and sciences collide is in 3D printing. Across disciplines, students are utilizing 3D printing to not only learn about their chosen field but to innovate it.
Putting the A in STEAM
The importance of arts in a standard math and science-based curriculum cannot be understated. Likewise, scientific rigor and technological advances can open up new artistic possibilities. With over 40 majors offered in a variety of disciplines, SCAD has always been a leader in trend-setting curricula. They incorporated 3D printers into their studies many years ago and found that it sparked a wave of development and advancement in arts and design across the campus. Students began creating cutting-edge projects that pushed the boundaries of their fields. Demand on campus grew, and now SCAD’s automated 3D printing lab operates continuously to serve around 12,000 students who are bringing their dreams to life.
Preparing for the ‘Real’ World
These students aren’t just creating fantastical designs in a vacuum, either. They use a rigorous process to create 3D printed prototypes, and they operate on the same foundations as real-world businesses. In addition to the design itself, the students are responsible for pricing and budgeting the project, working with others in the lab to complete it on time, and managing it through the finish line. One of the most important parts of 3D printing is iteration – the ability to rapidly test prototypes with slight design variations. In the early days of 3D printing at SCAD, iteration was a challenge as 3D printers worked around the clock to try and produce student orders. Students would wait in the print queue for days before being able to test their next iteration. Now, with SCAD’s advanced, autonomous network of nineteen 3D printers that communicate through the cloud, students are able to send a print to the lab and pick it up the next morning.
Whether studying cartooning, furniture design, engineering, or even theater arts, SCAD students continue to find groundbreaking uses for 3D printing technology. By blending science, technology, and the arts, the 3D printing lab at SCAD is changing the way students learn and grow. They are able to work in an environment that will prepare them for future employment, as well as to break the barriers of what’s expected in their chosen fields.