Designing 3D Printing Innovations in Education Leave a comment


As 3D printing becomes more and more accessible to consumers and institutions, educators are quickly becoming proficient at incorporating 3D printing into their curriculum. Public Services Librarian from Houston Community College, Rumela Bose, has picked up the torch of demonstrating how 3D printing can expand into various disciplines within her institution.

Before arriving at Houston Community College, Rumela was introduced to 3D printing possibilities in a Makerspace lab at another institution where she assisted students with 3D printing projects. She kept noticing the growing number of college students who were curious yet could not make the connection between this emerging technology and their learning experiences

Rumela soon arrived at Houston Community College, Central Campus where she was able to merge her previous experiences with 3D printing with a new concept they launched fall 2017 called, “Makerspace Pop-ups”. It was an idea that grew from a lack of space in the library and the desire to construct an environment for creativity & innovation, basically anywhere.

Some 3D printed items for a Fashion Department project.

Some 3D printed items for a Fashion Department project.

The library at Central Campus along with the Student Library Advisory Council begin popping up all over campus with high-tech and low-tech tools that allowed students to create whatever they wanted. One of those high tech tools was the Ultimaker 2+, 3D printer and that’s when the ‘ah ha’ moments started happening for students and instructors. “Before we got the Ultimaker, instructors sent their students across town to use a 3D printer because there were none openly accessible to students after class. As of today, we have 3D printers in all 9 of our libraries providing accessibility and equity to all of our students & instructors”, said Bose.

The first year of the Makerspace Pop-up series served over 600 students who by assessment results have stated this was overwhelmingly a needed addition to the student experience here at Houston Community College.

The library MakerSpace showcasing the Ultimaker 3D printer.

The library MakerSpace showcasing the Ultimaker 3D printer.

The second year of the pop-up series has just launched and has brought in 2 more student organizations, the Science Club and the Entrepreneur Club, expanding 3D printing opportunities even more. Additionally, our fashion design majors are incorporating 3D printing in their garment designs. Some instructors now know 3D printing is available and have started partnering with the pop-up series to help supplement their instructional materials.

“One of the instructors was using construction paper, straws and glue to teach cell components to students. Now after working with our pop-up series, the instructor has three-dimensional, sustainable objects that will help students to better imagine and understand these highly complex structures.”

3D printed amino acid models for the Biology Department

3D printed amino acid models for the Biology Department

Rumela explains, “The biggest challenge/goal for us was to have instructors incorporate 3D printing into meaningful assignments while demystifying a perceived difficult learning curve into something totally doable.” Two ways the library is making an impact is by offering monthly 3D printing workshops and hiring student workers as 3D printing ambassadors.

Rumela is responsible for training the student workers and has observed the transfer of learning that takes place on a peer to peer level. One of her trainees, Tri Tran, has not only has mastered 3D printing basic objects but now excels at preparing and printing complicated 3D print jobs. Currently, the Makerspace pop-up series is working on printing DNA models for a genetics instructor and has just wrapped up printing a Windsor chair for an Interior Design student

A scale model of the Houston Astrodome designed by Tri Tran.

A scale model of the Houston Astrodome designed by Tri Tran.

Another exciting development will be the Student Library Advisory Council’s 3D Design Challenge during their Halloween Makerspace event.

Overall, Rumela sees the access to 3D printing as inspirational:

“In order to inspire students in the field of technology, the library is positioning itself to play a key role in the process at Houston Community College. I think it is important that we reach out to a wider audience to expose this technology regardless of their educational background and or interest” said Bose.

We can’t wait to see what Rumela and the HCC Central Library innovate next – 3D printing really is an amazing addition to any curriculum or subject at any level of education!

Want to be our next Hacker of the Month? Email, and tell us about your 3D printed creations – you could be featured in our next newsletter. Hacker of the Month wins 3 free spools of PRO Series PLA or ABS filament to further their pursuit of 3D printing greatness!


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