Sign Up Now: TTU Offers Digital Manufacturing Instruction using Virtual Reality

In a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute (2021), an estimated 2.1 million manufacturing-related jobs may go unfilled by 2030 — and this could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion. MatEdU News and its partners have reported on the manufacturing skills gap before (in this Materials Science Careers post, for example) and offered educational strategies to help mitigate it, including a new training workshop in early 2022.

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A wide range of universities and colleges, including Tennessee Tech University, Edmonds College, Purdue University Northwest (links go to related programs or professors), and many others, are lining up to help educators guide students to deeper understanding and knowledge of advanced manufacturing methods, using cutting edge technology and innovative approaches. 

Using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the upcoming workshop in January 2022 will give educators the tools to, at minimum, keep up with, and hopefully outrun this seemingly faster skills gap. Manufacturers are looking for new ways to teach workers new skills and VR and AR are increasingly being used. Community college professors and high school educators can use this workshop to move to the forefront of this shift to speed up and improve training for and student awareness of manufacturing. 

From January 10 – 14, 2022, this NSF-funded virtual workshop on Digital Manufacturing (DM) Instruction using Virtual Reality (VR) technology will cover VR-based digital manufacturing instruction practices. 

The workshop is directed toward community college instructors and high-school teachers interested in digital manufacturing instruction using virtual reality tools and techniques. A stipend of $600 and a high-tech VR headset will be provided.

Please apply for the workshop only if you can commit to attend the entire workshop and complete the workshop requirements. Application deadline is December 10, 2021. Applicants can apply via the 2022 Digital Manufacturing online application here, including the full expectations and requirements. The number of participants is limited to 30 and successful applicants will be announced by mid-December. Contact information for the outreach coordinator, Michelle Davis, at the Center for Manufacturing Research, Tennessee Tech University, is also at the main application link above.

Learn more about how Project MANEUVER (Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources; NSF Award # 1700674) is developing an affordable VR framework.

MatEdU Welcomes InnovATEBIO As New Partner And Ally

In a National Science Foundation (NSF) article in late 2020, The future of how things are made, the NSF began asking researchers to “reimagine the future of how things are made, laying the groundwork for manufacturing that is sustainable; takes full advantage of artificial intelligence;  incorporates advancements in fields such as bioengineering and materials science…” 

NSF is already helping those imaginations to move fast, by investing approximately $250 million per year in advanced manufacturing research. The article states that “advances in computer-aided design to drive development of 3D printing and sustained advanced nanomaterials, NSF’s decades-long investment in fundamental research has transformed manufacturing, resulting in products modern society has come to depend on.” 

Advanced manufacturing, for many people, brings to mind large machinery that melts, cuts, and bends metal, among other things, but a fundamental part of innovation in manufacturing and many other industries, is the field of materials science. 

Materials science is increasingly joining together with other specialties, in this post we’re highlighting how biology, or more specifically, Biotechnology experts are teaming up with Materials Science experts. MatEdU and InnovATEBIO, led by NSF Principal Investigator, Dr. Linnea Fletcher, and based at Austin Community College, are teaming up to create and increase technician-level skill to serve the companies, new and old, at the intersection of these two fields. 

The InnovATEBIO website states: “Advancing the U.S. bioeconomy will require a growing biotechnology workforce that is well educated and diverse. Located at Austin Community College in Texas and partnering with institutions of higher education, high schools, industry, and non-profits throughout the country, the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center, an NSF-funded Advanced Technological Education Center, works with the biotech community to scope out workforce needs and address them by educating highly skilled technicians. InnovATEBIO supports a cadre of well-trained instructors and is helping to increase the number and quality of biotechnology education programs, as well as introducing a wide range of underrepresented students to biotechnology.”

For example, in her detailed InnovATEBIO presentation, Bio-inspired and Sustainable Design: Towards Functional Materials (YouTube video link), Dr. LaShanda Korley, at the University of Delaware, highlighted how her Center (funded under the NSF PIRE program) takes inspiration from “nature to design new materials that can change toughness in response to their environment, are safer and more effective biological implants, will transmit nerve-like electrical signals, and can respond to the environment to initiate biological processes with an eye toward soft robotic applications.” 

Like MatEdU with its National Online Resource Center and course modules, InnovATEBIO offers “Courses in a box” with materials to help instructors get a new course off the ground quickly. 

These resources may include:

  • course description
  • student outcomes
  • reading assignments or references to a textbook or articles
  • laboratory exercises
  • lecture materials
  • classroom activities
  • homework assignments
  • exams and quizzes
  • videos

Here are a few of the InnovATEBIO courses: 

Bioinformatics for Biology and Biotech

Contributed By: Sandra Porter

This bioinformatics course was developed by Dr. Sandra Porter over a ten year period as a semester-long course in the biotechnology program at Austin Community College with a …

Chromatography Techniques

Contributed By: Oana Martin

This course introduces the basic concepts involved in the separation of molecules. The purpose of this course is to give students a basic understanding of the basic underlying …

Hazardous Materials

Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus

Welcome to the Hazardous Materials course-in-a-box. This course is not designed as a safety training course. The educational philosophy of this course, like that of most of the … 

Laboratory Math for Biotechnology

Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus

Bench work in the biotechnology laboratory requires that technicians possess certain fundamental math skills and the ability to apply these skills. 

If you are interested in Biotechnology jobs, including biomaterials jobs, you will want to visit the BioTech Careers page on LinkedIn (via InnovATEBIO) as well as the main Biotech-Careers.org site that is run by the Digital World Biology team (again funded via InnovATEBIO). The site receives 500,000-plus visitors each year and helps students find biotech careers. 

Finally, our recent MatEdU post: HI-TEC Event Supports Materials Science Workforce Of The Future, reports on related biotech presentations and materials science resources.

HI-TEC Event Supports Materials Science Workforce Of The Future

The High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) is an annual event centered on advanced technological education. It’s goal is to bring together secondary and postsecondary educators, counselors, industry professionals, trade organizations, and technicians so they can update their knowledge and skills. 

On the surface, most of the HI-TEC presentations do not have “Materials Science” in the title, but like so many STEM-related curriculum and research areas, materials provide a foundation for many of these disciplines and degree programs. Much of what MatEdU has done and continues to do is to find the people and resources interested in advancing materials science, particularly where it intersects with influencing and driving technician hiring in the not-so-distant future. 

Photo from National Cancer Institute via Unsplash

Charged with preparing America’s skilled technical workforce, the event focuses on the preparation needed by the existing and future workforce for companies in the high-tech sectors that drive our nation’s economy. 

HI-TEC explores the convergence of scientific disciplines and technologies including:

  • Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
  • Bio and Agricultural Technologies
  • Energy and Environmental Technologies
  • Engineering Technologies
  • Information, Communications, and Geospatial Technologies
  • Learning, Evaluation, and Research
  • Micro and Nanotechnologies
  • Security Technologies
  • Workforce Diversity

Materials Plays Important Role in Health and Biotechnology

Materials Science combined with Engineering often means Biotechnology, as our world faces more health crises and challenges. The HI-TEC event offered seven different presentations focused on biosciences and biotechnology, to dive into just one category from the above list. With 80-plus presentations, there was something for every participant. 

The InnovATEBIO National Center for Biotechnology Education, located at Austin Community College, Texas, one of MatEdU’s most recent allies (a more detailed post is coming soon) presented on how their national center serves as a model for ATE National Center Websites and Education Databases and how they built out their community and social presence. ATE national centers are expected to develop and support communities focused on educating technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy. 

  • Todd Smith, Director, InnovATEBIO, Digital World Biology, Seattle, WA; 
  • Sandra Porter, President, Bridge to Bio-Link’s Future and Biotech Careers, Digital World Biology, Seattle, WA

The HI-TEC event showcases how schools join forces with industry and nonprofits to advance technician education. MatEdU is an example of this and supports a range of technician-oriented programs across the nation, serving as a resource repository. MatEdU maintains a national network of industry and educational professionals to increase the number and diversity of highly skilled technicians ready for employment. Likewise, the HI-TEC event is organized to disseminate how NSF ATE projects are improving and building technician programs across nearly all industries, from aviation to medicine, automobiles to drones.

The July 2021 event has over 80 sessions available on the HI-TEC On-Demand Sessions page on a wide range of topics: Advanced Manufacturing, Biotechnology, Cybersecurity, Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion, Employer Engagement, Energy And Environmental Technologies, Engineering Technologies, Future Of Work, Grant Funding, Information Technology, Internet Of Things, Learning, Evaluation, And Research, and Micro Nanotechnologies (including a post on the Micro Nano Technology Education Center News page lists out HI-TEC presentations in that area).

Governor Inslee To Address Washington State As Global Hub for Alternative Fuels

On May 20, the Consortium for Hydrogen And Renewably Generated E-Fuels (CHARGE) is offering its inaugural conference to address critical materials challenges in the energy and transportation sectors. As hydrogen and e-fuels are deployed as alternative fuels, several organizations are joining forces to make Washington State a global hub for commercializing new fuels and technologies.   

Save the Date: Thursday, May 20 from 8AM to 1PM.

Learn more about CHARGE.

JCDREAM CHARGE Conference visual explaining how renewable and alternative fuels are the future of energy.
Image Courtesy of JCDREAM

The following Washington State University (WSU) centers will act as founding members of the CHARGE Consortium:  

  • JCDREAM – Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials 
  • HYPER – Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research 
  • ESIC – Energy Systems Innovation Center 
  • ASCENT – Aviation Sustainability Center

The consortium seeks commercialization partners in the following sectors (the survey request linked below is about identifying potential partners for pilot projects and programs): 

  • Transportation: marine, aviation, shipping, trucking, and personal transport OEMs with a focus on long term deep decarbonization 
  • Harvesting: agriculture, fishing, logging, and mining with the goal of long-term sustainability and circular carbon economies 
  • Cloud Computing: companies interested in alternative fuels for decarbonizing the cloud 
  • Utilities: focus on deploying and managing low cost or excess clean energy assets towards hydrogen or fuel production which is sold or used for long term energy storage and reintroduced to the grid  
  • Process Engineering: firms dedicated to innovative chemical engineering and process scaleup 
  • Chemical and Materials Manufacturing: companies that will commercialize new processes for hydrogen or fuel/chemical production and materials needed to enable efficient processing 

If you are interested in the CHARGE event, this page shares the details and asks you to take a short survey which will be used to connect potential collaborators around new pilot projects, including opportunities around public and private funding. 


More info:

MatEdU News wrote about the critical materials shortage last year: JCDREAM Drives Innovation For Earth-Abundant Materials:

“Around the globe, world leaders are issuing calls to action on the shortage of critical materials, also known as rare earth elements (REE), that impact everything from our cell phones and computer hard drives to military defense capabilities. The United States, the European Union, and Japan have all raised concerns for materials shortages and supply chain risks.”

We also included them in a post about the Race to the Ocean Floor that highlighted ocean explorations and plans for mining rare earth elements there. 

If you are wondering about the need for shifting from critical materials to sustainable materials, read this JCDREAM blog post on The Importance of Materials Science Education & Workforce Development.

JCDREAM Drives Innovation For Earth-Abundant Materials

JCDREAM website

Around the globe, world leaders are issuing calls to action on the shortage of critical materials, also known as rare earth elements (REE), that impact everything from our cell phones and computer hard drives to military defense capabilities. The United States, the European Union, and Japan have all raised concerns for materials shortages and supply chain risks.

A significant number of university departments and government agencies are approaching this challenge from different perspectives. In Washington State, the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials (JCDREAM), located at Washington State University at Everett, is flipping the equation and asking first how we find and explore existing alternatives and future alternatives with “earth-abundant materials.”

The JCDREAM Symposium organizes and coordinates, via Zoom, discussions on the future of sustainable materials and how to tackle the challenge. Two recent ones are available in their archive, but the December topic (register by clicking the title link): Advancing Critical, Rare and Abundant Materials Education in Washington State includes materials experts Mel Cossette & Ann Avary. If you miss the December 8 event, a recording will be shared on JCDREAM archive page a few days after the presentation.

From the site: “Cossette and Avary have worked to advance materials science education and workforce development in the state of Washington for decades. They are combining their expertise in these areas to widen the focus to critical and earth-abundant materials to ensure that the next generation of engineers and technicians are prepared to address these issues.”

You can also keep tabs on the JCDREAM Symposium 2021 upcoming topics (dates TBD)

    • Battery Materials and Electrification
    • Washington State Policy Feature
    • National Security and Material Supply Chains

If all this discussion about rare earth elements has you wondering about the full list, you need only revisit the periodic table from your high school or university chemistry class. JCDREAM has a terrific Resource page that includes a “Rare Earths 101” factsheet and a long list of blog posts that can help you refamiliarize yourself with materials science and rare earth elements.

To whet your appetite, according to United States Geological Survey (USGS), there are 17 REEs:

    • Lanthanide elements (15 in total – atomic numbers 57 through 71 on the periodic table)
    • Scandium
    • Yttrium

There are also energy critical elements (ECEs) that are used widely in energy production, transmission, and storage. These include elements you will likely recognize: lithium, cobalt, selenium, and silicon, to name just a few.

Source: Center for Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan. 2020. “Critical Materials Factsheet.” Pub. No. CSS14-15NOTE: This factsheet has some terrific graphics to show which materials are in a critical stage (lack of supply) to non-critical. The American Geosciences Institute provides a great overview: What are rare earth elements, and why are they important? that includes a variety of links to the USGS and other helpful sites.

MatEdU News will update this post with further info and links to various Symposia or other resources in the race to protect the earth’s critical materials.

Chippewa Valley Technical College Offers Additive Manufacturing Symposium

In this Additive Manufacturing virtual symposium, on Friday, November 6th, Mahmood Lahroodi and team have set up a morning of packed-sessions on what is happening in the world of advanced 3D printing. Here’s a look at tomorrow’s agenda:

You can join the event by clicking here starting at 9am Central time. Here are some of the advanced sessions you can join tomorrow for free:

  • Introduction by Mahmood Lahroodi-CVTC
  • Reviewing NSF-DREAM Website by Hans Mikelson-CVTC
  • Advancements in Metal 3D Printers by Terry Cambron-Desktop Metal
  • From Powder to Performance by Dr. Pradeep Bhattad-Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset in AM by Rick and Sarah Heuer – Heuer Studios
  • Metal 3D Printer by Ryan Prigge-Productivity
  • Reverse Engineering using Additive Manufacturing  by Joe Vydrzal

The symposium comes via the NSF-funded Developing Resources for Enhancing Additive Manufacturing (DREAM) project (#1902501). The project has two major goals:

  1. Prepare technicians for manufacturing and engineering through applied education of additive manufacturing processes and concepts.
  2. Increase the capacity of rural secondary teachers to provide instruction in additive manufacturing.

MatEdU News also will share some other project information on its sister site, AM News, under the TEAMM project. We have an upcoming post that goes deeper on the technician education aspects, including details on the five additive manufacturing modules that support the Manufacturing Engineering Technologist and Mechanical Design associate degree programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).

The modules cross over our work here in Materials Science and Education as well as more advanced topics in training technicians, such as, metal additive manufacturing, design principles, and quality assurance for digital manufacturing. The CVTC facility is also home to a new Fab Lab with a range of 3D printers (including thermoplastic, stereolithography, composite material, and metal 3D printers) and a 3D laser scanner.

You also can view their first symposium (August 2020) on Additive Manufacturing on YouTube.

The session that dives deeper into materials science is from Dr. Pradeep Bhattad, business development manager of ZEISS Additive Manufacturing Process and Control at ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions. He also is collaborating with Oak Ridge National Lab’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and will be sharing about the quality aspect of 3D printed parts (hint: That means materials). A recent article, Producing Additively Manufactured Parts, in Quality Magazine gives a glimpse into his talk on powder-based 3D printing.