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My Experience with ASMS Special Projects Week and 3D Printing

By ASMS sophomore, Liam Ellison

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The three-term system at the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science (ASMS) can be challenging, and not every class can be fit into the official ASMS course catalog for all 11 weeks. That’s why ASMS gives students a time between terms to take unique classes and study some of the other topics that interest them. This is accomplished in the form of an annual Special Projects Week -- a week in between winter and spring term where students focus on one special class that isn’t usually offered during the school year. Some of these special projects include Geomechanics, The Environmental Impact of Microplastics, Russian Language & Culture, and 3D Printing. I chose to participate in the 3D Printing course this year, and it provides a perfect example of what Special Projects are all about.

The course was taught by ASMS’s very own Ms. Webb, an ASMS mathematics instructor, and Dr. Alexander, an ASMS physics instructor. The course achieved three goals: 1. Educating students on the history and functionality of 3D printing 2. Teaching students how to 3D model our own designs, and 3. Guiding students on how to print what we modeled.

In the 3D Printing course, the week was split into 2 major sections. The first half of the week focused on lectures presented by the ASMS faculty members as well as student-led research on applications of 3D printing. We discovered many interesting applications including, 3D printed houses, 3D printed car parts, 3D printed modeling, and oddly enough 3D printed food.

During the second half of Special Projects Week, we focused on modeling and printing using Fusion 360 -- “a cloud-based 3D modeling, CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software platform for product design and manufacturing” (web). We modeled anywhere from three to five items in Fusion 360. We started off with designing a small flat key chain and ended with designing any item or design we desired. We went from never having touched a modeling software to designing, modeling, and printing our very own fan-created Star Wars spacecrafts.

For 30 years, Special Projects Week has been a fun way that ASMS students study something they may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about and also to develop new, unique skills -- such as 3D printing!

  • May 05, 2022