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SCC Offers Kentucky's First Certificate in Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing

3D printing picSomerset Community College is the first institution of higher education to offer a state-wide certificate in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The certificate, which requires 16 credit hours to obtain, will be available to students in January 2016.

"Experts in nearly every manufacturing industry, as well as various biomedical and service industries, are saying that training in additive manufacturing/3D printing is what their employees need for the future," said Eric Wooldridge, associate professor at SCC. "Within the next decade, the market potential in this field is estimated to be between 230 to 550 billion dollars, mainly associated with transportation, biomedical, and tooling industries."

The potential for growth in the additive manufacturing/3D printing field is particularly great in Kentucky, Wooldridge said, because aerospace (aircraft parts) is the state's number one export with automotive parts following at number two.

"There are several fields where additive manufacturing/3D printing is gaining strength in terms of end-use part production," Wooldridge said. "These include products like aerospace parts and custom tooling devices, where complexity, low product count, and lighter product weight are of significant interest. For example, multiple aircraft manufacturers already have aircraft in the skies with numerous 3D printed parts."

An article by Michael Molitch-Hou on 3dprintingindustry.com confirmed, stating "While GE continues to work towards metal printed parts into aircraft, Stratasys is hard at work on the plastics side. (On May 6, 2015) the company (Stratasys) announced that aerospace giant Airbus has 3D printed over 1,000 parts for the passenger A350 XWB aircraft..."

Printed parts and pieces are becoming more of the norm, said Wooldridge, and students with the knowledge of how additive manufacturing/3D technology works will have a distinct advantage in the workplace of the future, he said.

The certificate at SCC will consist of five classes, including design classes, individual hands-on projects and a business class that focuses on entrepreneurship.

The certificate is initially being offered at SCC. Steve Bailes, professor at Owensboro Community and Technical College, also played an integral role in developing the curriculum for the certificate and will be implementing the program for his campus as well, Wooldridge said. Brent Doty of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, assisted in obtaining approval for the certificate.

Wooldridge is also working with professors at Maysville Community and Technical College and Ashland Community and Technical College to create a partnership program model at those schools. The University of Louisville is also planning to introduce a similar certificate sometime in 2016, according to a July 2015 article in Fortune magazine online.

"We are really trying to be on the practical forefront of this technology by offering this certificate," said Wooldridge. "Additive printing/3D technology is constantly changing and business and industry leaders are finding ways to incorporate it everywhere - in business, art, health, manufacturing, education and beyond. Our students will be poised to take the lead in this technology across the state."

Enrollment for the certificate program is going on now. Classes begin on January 11, 2016. For more information, contact Wooldridge at (606) 451-6878 or by email at eric.wooldridge@kctcs.edu.