Wentworth and Chen Receive Mini Grant for Immense Innovation

By Allison McLellan

Adam Wentworth

Adam Wentworth

Xu Chen

Dr. Xu Chen

Adam Wentworth, MSE Laboratory Manager, and Dr. Xu Chen, Assistant Professor in the Institute of Materials Science and in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received a 2015 Teaching Innovation Mini Grant for their course proposal, “Intro to 3D Printing: Learn by Building.”

With this proposal, the scholars aim to create an undergraduate education initiative on 3D printing and additive manufacturing through a hybrid of in-class and online lecture on theory, as well as the hands-on construction of a fused-deposition modeling (FDM) style 3D printer. Cross-listed between mechanical engineering and MSE, the curriculum will not only encompass the mechatronics of these FDM based printers, but also the thermodynamics and materials involved in the process. Students will be able to showcase their work by entering into an Undergraduate 3D Printer Design Competition and performing a live demonstration at the end of the semester for UConn faculty, staff, and students.

3d printed case

A 3D printed iPhone case with customized logo

Awarded by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), Provost’s Teaching Innovation Mini Grant Competition seeks proposals that support innovation in teaching effectiveness and improve student-learning outcomes. One such benefit of Chen’s and Wentworth’s course is emphasizing application-based teaching. Hands-on experience will stimulate student curiosity and allow them to grasp the technology at an advanced level, even without prior knowledge. Dr. Chen says, “Instead of learning by following a textbook in a classroom, the proposed education provides a problem- and project-based learning that is the core value of constructionism and self learning. Therefore, we envision the proposed education will make a direct impact for teaching innovations to reduce large class size.”

Both Xu and Adam are excited to begin this educational endeavor to guide students in leading areas of research. As the advisor for the UConn 3D Printing Club and Laboratory Manager for MSE, Adam has spent the past two years developing his knowledge about 3D printing, modeling, and scanning. “I was happy to offer my assistance to Professor Chen when he asked me to be his co-PI on the grant proposal. I am thrilled to share my passion for the technology with students and learn even more in the process.”

Currently in pursuit of the Solidworks Professional certification, Adam looks forward to adding this course to his efforts in the cutting-edge technology of additive manufacturing. With this mini grant, Dr. Chen and Adam can better design courses and conduct research in order to incorporate 3D printing and advanced manufacturing into more levels of college education for the future.