News Details

December 14, 2016

College Receives Grant toward Purchase of 3D Color Printer

The School of Exercise Science & Athletic Training, in combination with the Department of Biology & Environmental Science, at West Virginia Wesleyan College was awarded a $20,000 grant toward the purchase of a 3D printer through the West Virginia Division of Science and Research, Instrumentation Grant Program.  This grant program is designed to encourage undergraduate students in West Virginia to continue careers in science, math, and engineering.  Instrumentation Grants seeks to accomplish this by allowing the purchase of modern instruments for advanced undergraduate laboratories.

 

The grant, written by Dr. Greg Popovich, associate professor of exercise science, and Kristy Henson, MS, assistant lab coordinator and lecturer in the biology department, will help to purchase a full color Mcor ARKe Color 3D Printer, which will have extensive uses in the sciences when creating teaching models.   

Henson’s master’s research was on the accuracy of 3D printing and 3D scanning of human skeletal remains.  “This type of 3D printer will allow us to print accurate models to incorporate into our human anatomy and physiology course, as well as vertebrate zoology and evolution,” stated Henson.  “We can print fossils and go into more detail during these labs, allowing a more kinesthetic teaching approach.  We can also enlarge and print viruses and bacteria, allowing students to visualize microscopic organisms.”

Henson visualized the 3D printer as a tool that could cross departments, approaching Popovich about the idea for the grant and the possible uses in the School of Exercise Science & Athletic Training.

“In general, students of the sciences appreciate and benefit from active and tactile learning strategies,” Popovich said.  “Particularly in exercise science and athletic training, many students will find themselves working hands-on with people, in which the experience of working with three-dimensional models will have provided a more natural bridge to palpation and manual therapies.”

In fact, many academic courses could see the benefit of this printer, such as Sports Injury, Kinesiology, Forensic Biology, the Physics department, and even the Art department.

“3D printers are becoming a common instrument in science departments, and they offer endless opportunities for hands-on student interactions,” commented Henson.  “It can be useful to pre-professional students because we can print and show them real injuries, pathological models, and other forms of human variation.”

“A physical model can make the abstract more concrete,” agreed Popovich.  “3D printing has the potential to capture imagination and make material more personally relevant than ever before.  Imagine if a student-athlete at the College were to provide a digital file of an unusual injury that said athlete may have sustained.  Students may better appreciate the three-dimensional features of that injury as well as the clinical presentation and its personal impact on the injured individual.”

The 3D printer will also give Wesleyan an edge in research.

“We can also offer more student research opportunities on the accuracy and methods of 3D printing,” Henson said.  “The possibilities are endless, and I am very excited to see what we can incorporate into the classrooms and inside other departments on campus.”

The Mcor ARKe Color 3D Printer uses paper to create the 3D model.  The model is then sealed and becomes durable and ready-to-use.  A full database to create such 3D specimens is available online; the departments can also upload and extract their own files for creation.

For more information, please contact Henson at Henson.k@wvwc.edu or Popovich at Bradley_g@wvwc.edu.

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