New 3D modeling and printing class builds its way to all majors

Nicole McIsaac and Krystal Miller

In an effort to enhance students’ engineering experiences, Quinnipiac University will offer a 3D Model and Printing for Innovators course this fall.

Led by Mary Phillips Ho, associate professor of mechanical engineering, the course is designed for students to use the Innovation Hub and Maker Space to create models and prototypes with 3D-modeling software. Students can use the technology outside of class to work on projects.

Illustration by (Sean Formantes)

“There’s an idea, a push to get faculty from across the university together with this idea of building these connections across the university and really helping to encourage and incubate that innovation,” Phillips Ho said.

The course does not require any experience or prerequisites and is open to all majors. Phillips Ho said the class is structured for students to engage in a full hands-on experience by learning the software and applying it to create a design.

“There’s something really cool and satisfying about being able to create and make something yourself,” Phillips Ho said. “And that’s not something that just engineers find satisfying.”

The course will teach students how to use the software, but Phillips Ho said it goes beyond just 3D modeling and printing.

“The idea is to have it broader, looking at how different industries and different disciplines even outside just the traditional ones that you think of, how are they using this technology and how is this technology impacting other aspects of society,” Phillips Ho said.

Despite not being involved in engineering, other students said they are excited that the university is trying to cross connect different industries. 

“The engineering field is so diverse and can fit into so many jobs, so giving students of different majors an opportunity to explore this type of field is great,” said Meni Thomas, a sophomore health science major. “It’s a way to prepare the students for the professional world of all fields.” 

Thomas said she would consider taking the course given the technological advances in 3D printing and modeling today. 

“This course is also a good break in the schedule to do something creative but also challenging,” Thomas said. 

Although having prior experience in the field, some students said that the addition of this course on campus spikes their interest in enrolling.

Kevin Rodriguez, a first-year software engineering major, said he would take the course because of the importance of understanding 3D printing and how the design process is used to solve problems.

“Engineers hope to find solutions to problems and 3D printing and modeling is a tool that can help make that possible,” Rodriguez said. “Plus, it’s something great to add on your resume.”

Rodriguez said that because the university is offering the course to all majors, more students will have greater comprehension of the design process as a whole.

“I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of how engineers use tools such as 3D printers to come up with a solution to the problem they’re trying to solve,” Rodriguez said.

William Nocar, a senior mechanical engineering major, said he would take the course as he has taken other courses involving 3D modeling.

“However, the (aforementioned) course mostly deals with the learning of software tools, and not the actual 3D modeling creation process physically,” Nocar said.

Though other students who are more familiar with the material said they are not as inclined to enroll in the class.

Gina Greco, a senior mechanical engineering major, said she is a superuser in the makerspace. That means she supervises, trains and creates operating manuals for the equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutter, heat presses, embroidery machine, and vacuum press.

“I think that this course would be very beneficial to students outside of mechanical engineering to give them an idea of how prototyping works and especially for majors such as entrepreneurship so that they can model their own ideas,” Greco said.

Casey McNichol, a sophomore 3+1 film, media, and television major said she would take the course because 3D printing is becoming a huge factor in everyday life. 

“I think Quinnipiac is advancing faster than I anticipated,” McNichol said. “Not many schools are expanding into 3D printing.”

Phillips Ho said that although some students are currently enrolled in the course, she hopes more individuals learn about its offerings and take the class in the fall.  

“I think we have just a lot of creative students across the campus at Quinnipiac who have these creative ideas and this is one way for them to develop those ideas and express their ideas,” Phillips Ho said. “We want to give this as just an additional outlet for them to do that.”

Any student interested in learning more about enrolling in the course is encouraged to contact [email protected].