New 3D Innovation Hub at Howard Community College Fabricates Collaborative Future for Education and Business
Columbia, MD – Howard Community College is fabricating a more collaborative future between higher education and business with the opening of its 3D Innovation Hub on campus. Located in one of the college’s central academic buildings, the 3D Innovation Hub provides students with opportunities to build objects that have real-life applications to careers and faculty with opportunities to develop specialized models that enhance classroom instruction. In the near future, local businesses will receive full-service 3D printing.
Three-dimensional printing, also known as custom additive manufacturing, uses plastic filament or plaster powder to construct three-dimensional objects that are used in educational visualization, demonstration, and even prototype testing. To integrate additive manufacturing technology into the Howard Community College campus, the 3D Innovation Hub is a glass-walled center that encourages students and the public to watch 3D printed objects being made.
“The 3D Innovation Hub will inspire our faculty and staff to integrate additive manufacturing technology in their classes,” said Dr. Kate Hetherington, president of Howard Community College. “It will also expose students to a technology that is changing business and encourage local companies to partner with Howard Community College to help develop innovative products in Howard County.”
To celebrate the new 3D Innovation Hub, Dr. Hetherington and Skip Coale, chair of the Howard Community College Board of Trustees, held a ribbon cutting ceremony May 9, 2016, with Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) Executive Vice President Vernon Thompson, and other elected officials, business leaders, faculty, staff, and students.
With support from the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), the 3D Innovation Hub is building upon the success generated by the HCEDA’s recent two-year initiative that helped raised awareness of additive manufacturing technology and its capabilities for commercial use.
“I am very excited that we were able to partner with Howard Community College and make this 3D Innovation Hub a reality,” said County Executive Kittleman. “With HCC’s guidance, we are taking another step forward for 3D printing and additive manufacturing in Howard County. By investing in students and providing them with access to industry-leading equipment, we are creating another opportunity and strengthening our talented workforce.”
At the outset, the 3D Innovation Hub will develop projects for college faculty, staff, and students.
For instance, a student entrepreneur received assistance from the hub to fabricate a prototype for her “smart” dog collar design and faculty from the medical laboratory technology program requested a flow cytometer model to familiarize students with the equipment. To enhance learning even further, students will operate the 3D printers and receive hands-on experience in the growing field of fabrication and additive manufacturing.
After the pilot project phase, businesses will be able to receive 3D printing services, which will include design consultation, development, and fabrication at a reasonable cost. Experienced faculty and staff connected to the 3D Innovation Hub will meet one-on-one with business owners and entrepreneurs to turn their drawings and concepts into 3D reality.
For more information about the Howard Community College 3D Innovation Hub, visit www.howardcc.edu/3dhub.