Education comes to life with 3D printing

By Michael A. Garza
Pulse staff reporter


Palo Alto College is joining the 3D printing world, offering students the chance to bring their creativity to life.

One of PAC’s recent Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) grants has been able to provide state-of-the-art 3D printers to students.

“It’s pretty neat to see what can come out of there,” said Chris Delgado, Information and Communications Technology director for PAC.

Delgado is the one who came up with the idea for spending remaining STEM grant money on buying six 3D printers to keep PAC up to date with technology on the same level as other higher education institutes, like the University of Texas at Austin, which is also using 3D printers to further student education.

The 3D printer comes with software from MakerBot, which allows students to chose from thousands and thousands of templates of 3D models that can be printed out along with instructions on how to do everything correctly in order to get the best print possible.

The Engineering Department is equipped with two printers and two computers that work with AutoCAD, a computer-aided drafting program that allows printouts of 3D models of blue prints and structure designs created by students who are majoring in Engineering.

The Academic Learning Studio on campus also provides a 3D printer and computer with the MakerBot software.  Delgado mentioned that the 3D printer is available to students, faculty and the community, as well.

“I like it because I’m studying to become a teacher myself,” said Danielle Suarez, a freshmen Education major at PAC. “I could use it to make objects to get my point across, to help students better understand and put things into a better perspective”

Frio Hall also has a 3D printer and computer with the same software, but it is directed more toward Anatomy and printing models of bones and organs for students to study. A 3D scanner is next on the list for Frio Hall, which will improve the use of the 3D printer even more.

“When we get the 3D scanner, we will be able to print out even more precise models for students to learn from,” said Mary Nichols, a PAC STEM tutor for the Frio Hall computer lab.

Not only can these printers be used for educational purposes, but they can even be for a student’s own personal creativity. The Ozuna Library has a 3D printer set up in its new PAC Creates Center, where students can come in and use the printer for personal use at no charge.

“The printer itself and the filament were purchased with the previous STEM Grant, so we are not currently charging students to use it,” said Tyler Dunn, Access Services librarian for the Ozuna Library.

The 3D printer in the Ozuna Academic Learning Studio, Room 150, is available to the community Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.

The 3D printer in the library in the PAC Creates Center is available to everyone on campus during library hours, Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Engineering majors can use Sabine Hall, Rooms 104 and 202; Biology majors can use Brazos Hall, Room 105; and Anatomy and Physiology majors can use Frio Hall, Room 111 during classroom hours.