NNU creates advanced 3-D Design Lab with Hewlett-Packard Grant

November 1, 2012, 1:48 pm

NNU’s new engineering program received an equipment grant from Hewlett Packard (HP) November 1, 2012 that allows for creation of a 3-D design, visualization and prototyping lab. This groundbreaking, high-tech lab will allow NNU students to incorporate HP’s leading-edge hardware and software into an innovative engineering curriculum.

This state-of-the-art test bed for applying HP’s latest computing, scanning and printing technology will be integrated into a truly modern engineering education at NNU. Features of the lab allow students to:

• Utilize Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), modeling, visualization and prototyping tools with a 3-D design theme throughout all four years of the BS in engineering degree program.
• Quickly and inexpensively translate their new creations from the realm of their own imagination to actual fabricated objects and products that can be tested and refined.
• Gain more in-depth learning and understanding of design through improved visualization, tactile manipulation and rapid turnaround prototyping of student designs.
• Give rise to new, innovative undergraduate research and design projects through collaboration with HP and other local and regional high-tech companies.
“Engineering design is an integral part of any engineering program,” said Dan Lawrence, chair of the NNU department of physics and engineering. “It is where we start and finish all our students. Whether learning the basics of computer-aided design or putting a senior design project together, this laboratory will give our students the best tools available to achieve excellence in their endeavors,”

The lab will roll out in two phases, the first of which will begin by the end of 2012 and the second for the 2013-14 school year.

Other highlights of the lab’s capabilities include:

• Open-source 3-D printers and rapid prototyping of plastic and metal parts to check form, fit and functionality
• 3-D scanning of objects for the purpose of replication and reverse engineering
• Large format engineering 2-D printing
• 3-D numerical modeling and finite element simulation
• 3-D video and solid model animation and rendering capability for fast design iteration
“Supporting growth and development of the engineering programs in our local universities and colleges is critically important to developing the technical talent pool in the valley, and it also creates more opportunities and options for our local high school graduates looking to pursue a technical career path,” said Jim Nottingham, vice president for HP, Boise. “We believe that providing these schools with world-class technology from HP will enhance the quality of education and ultimately the caliber of technical graduates from these programs.”

NNU students, as well as visiting K-12 student from the Treasure Valley, will be able to gain critical hands-on experience in sophisticated 3-D engineering technology. The learning lab will also contribute to NNU’s new engineering program achieving initial ABET accreditation in 2014. NNU currently offers engineering physics, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering specializations with over 60 students enrolled.

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