At the beginning of the semester, I was feeling a little lost. Many students in the College of Business know exactly want they want to do by their junior year. Accountancy at Deloitte, marketing at Caterpillar, consulting for Ernst and Young, but majoring in Management with a focus in Entrepreneurship, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, I hadn’t quite found exactly where I fit in. But then I took BADM 395 Making Things. The course is about as broad as the name makes it sound, but the skills that I developed over the past 16 weeks have helped me immensely while planning for the future.
Every week was something new. At the beginning of the course, we mostly focused on developing our understanding of 3D printing and the software we would be working with throughout the rest of the course. I am certainly no expert, but now I find I am comfortable working with Autodesk Fusion 360 and Geomagic, to create and manipulate my own 3D objects from scratch. It started with learning to make something as simple as a tiny hat, to eventually printing a complex wheelchair racing glove after merging and cleaning many files after an extremely precise 3D scan. I also know my way around the lab at BIF, so I can complete the printing process from start to finish by myself.
Aside from those kind of technical skills, we also took a couple weeks to build our creative thinking and teamwork skills. Usually when a professors says there is going to be a group project, red flags go off in my mind, but the diversity of majors in this class made our group projects incredibly interesting and very productive. Students from all colleges took the course, there were engineers, industrial designers, journalists, IS/IT majors, and everything in between. Not only did I meet a bunch of awesome people, I was also exposed to the very unique ways each type of student thinks. So many ideas were thrown out that never would have occurred to me as a business major, and becoming friends and teammates with these people broadened my capacity to see things in a different light.
Learning about the technical process of 3D printing was definitely my favorite aspect of the course, but we also did tons of other workshops at the Fabrication Lab that were a lot of fun, and helped to give me more ideas of what is possible when it comes to the things you can build and create right here on campus. I really enjoyed learning to use the laser cutter to create our own personal leather bound journals and vinyl stickers, and working with the digital embroidery machines was cool as well. It’s amazing to me that someone in the lab was able to create their very own hand bag that can capture solar power and use it to charge a cell phone! The possibilities are endless and whenever there was class time in the lab, it was always so informational and inspiring! We also got to play with Arduinos in the lab, and just learning about what an Arduino is and how it works was an opportunity that not many students in the College of Business have. The fact that a team in class was able to use that knowledge to create a device that could help the elderly remember to take their medication shows the kind of real world applications all of the demonstrations in class have.
What I gained the most from this course was the simple ability to be imaginative and think outside the box. Because I’m studying entrepreneurship, I am very interested in starting my own business someday. After taking this course, I see all of the potential in 3D scanning and printing, and hope to pursue that as a career. Having heard presentations from my classmates about how you can print prosthetic hands, or an actual three dimensional CT scan of a human brain, I have been inspired. This technology could make a huge impact on the world, it already is, and taking this class has helped me realize that I want to be a part of it. Everyone at this university wants to make a difference, everyone here wants to save the world, and with 3D printing, I think I have found my niche. My little place where I can maybe make a change and help someone in need.
From here I plan to continue working on my group project for the duration of the summer, and see where that takes me. I have met some amazing people in the field that have graciously offered to help me increase my knowledge on scanning and printing- so my journey into the world of 3D printing continues. As I learn more and more I see myself one day developing a product and starting my own business using the skills I’ve gained from this class, but as for now I will keep experimenting on my own until that lightning bolt of an idea strikes me.
I would encourage any student- no matter what major- to give this class a try. Having access to so many kinds of equipment and the professionals who know how to use it is a distinct opportunity that you will likely only come across during your undergraduate years at university. Now that I have been exposed to all that is possible, with 3D printing and “making things” in general, I have become motivated to put that knowledge to good use and make something that matters.