Wooldridge, who leads the colleges Additive Manufacturing/3D (AM/3DP) printing program, worked with Beebe, now a pre-med student, several years ago to print an actual model of her skull and spine based off her own MRI scan. The pair presented their application through video conferencing and was discovered by an administrator from NSF. This eventually lead to SCCs enrollment within NSFs Mentor-Connect program, a process that helps prepare post-secondary faculty for NSF grant writing and funding.
The Mentor-Connect program was wonderful for us, said Wooldridge. It helped pair us with a biomedical mentor to prepare us to submit a competitive grant proposal for the NSFs Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program.
Recently, the team of Wooldridge, Elaine Kohrman, SCC associate professor of biology, and Dr. Clint Hayes, SCC associate dean of academic affairs, was awarded a NSF grant of $199,507. The funds will be used to upgrade existing SCC AM/3DP equipment and add new equipment for biomedical applications, such as acquiring high precision scans of objects and appendages.
Additive manufacturing is impacting every industry, said Wooldridge. We will be using these funds to assist local biomedical and other industries, essentially providing opportunities for them to learn and get on board with this technology. We will show them how to promote their business using the technology in order to compete in todays evolving market.
Wooldridge, who serves as the principal investigator (PI) of the project, known as Additive Manufacturing: Expanding Futures in Appalachia, said that the NSF funds will hopefully be the start of larger projects, and that the team plans to eventually expand applications into additional industries in the region such as robotics, automation and aerospace manufacturing.
Biomedical printing is an exciting starting point for our research into 3DP applications, and is a great way to raise awareness, said Wooldridge.
Kohrman, the grant co-PI, said the project is designed to create a premier regional AM/3DP Innovation Laboratory and build awareness with interactive demonstrations, hands-on workshops and presentations.
Wooldridge said several local partners, such as businesses, physicians and surgeons and schools are already on board with the project. One of the first research activities that will be completed involves trial printing of casts and medical models.
This technology is going to be part of everyday manufacturing in one form or another. As the local community college, we need to get our people prepared for it, Wooldridge said. Between the recent addition of our Additive Manufacturing/3DP printing certificate program and this grant, we are well on our way to doing just that.
PICTURED: Somerset Community College graduate Heather Beebe holds a 3-D printed model of a section of her own spine and skull. The model was generated in the SCC Additive Manufacturing/3D (AM/3DP) lab from an MRI Beebe had after a car accident.
Link to original presentation from Wooldridge and Beebe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzJ2kmUdKC4