The goals of the RapidTech National Center are to be a leader in technician education in additive manufacturing by providing professional development to faculty, teachers and incumbent workers; by creating, pilot testing and disseminating project-based modules and career pathways; and by developing successful approaches to obtaining and maintaining equipment for other colleges. Rapid prototyping is emerging as a core enabling technology to support the design, development, and manufacturing of numerous products. A growing number of industries use rapid prototyping and rapid tooling. Faculty members from a wide variety of STEM fields recognize this situation and are in need of curriculum materials and professional development that can support the swift introduction of rapid prototyping into their courses and programs. Rapid prototyping models provide quick feedback for critical decision making that fully engage students and increase their interest and pedagogical focus. The Center is working with regional and local workforce agencies and school districts to interest student in careers in additive manufacturing. Using RapidTech's close relations with industry, a national survey of career opportunities in additive manufacturing is planned. The Saddleback College Center is located at the University of California at Irvine. The connection with UC Irvine ensures career pathways for students and provides intellectual underpinnings for the products of the Center. The evaluation is providing metrics for determining the effectiveness of the Center's activities.
The recent media attention in 3D printing has led to unprecedented activity at the National Center. 3D printing and Rapid Technologies have now become an accepted and integral aspect of product design and development. Beyond product development, 3D printing and Rapid Technologies are now finding applications in a wide range of non-traditional fields beyond technology and engineering, including medical, architecture, animation, rapid digital manufacturing, and consumer level mass customization. RapidTech's mission is to support industry and education at all levels, particularly in the adoption of Rapid Technologies to increase global competitiveness. Implementation of these related technologies allows us to enhance educational and technical applications to ensure that these enabling technologies reach their full market potential while continuing to support emerging and ongoing workforce development. RapidTech fulfilled its role of a national center by disseminating its findings and interacting with education. The following numeric table illustrates our annual impact. Outreach Events – 88 Training & Development Events – 52 Publications & Presentations - 10 Technical Assists – 582 Dissemination Events – 27 High School Events – 2 Undergraduate Interactions – 572 Faculty Interactions – 1129 Industry Interactions – 964 Although the activity level of the National Center has increased and the new data tracking system has given us an eye opening view of the overall impact of the National Center while allowing us to selectively drill down on the more succinct events that provide true measureable impact. The second year of the renewal of RapidTech National Center located at UCI was extremely active with increased emphasis on education and supporting undergraduate student activities and less on industry projects as recommended by the 2012 National Visiting Committee Report and the 2012 External Evaluation Report. This focused attention has resulted in a greater number of undergraduate interactions than previously reported. One of the largest impacts we have seen at the university is the shift to project based education class with the inclusion of ENGR 98 for all undergraduate students studying engineering. The National Center has provided student support for this class on several occasions as is demonstrated by the 3D printed hovercraft from 1 student team (www.youtube.com/watch?v=02Q6KVQXN4U). RapidTech routinely guest lecture (14 Community College & University guest lecture/presentations impacting 606 students) to assist in dissemination and outreach efforts. Additionally the National Center and the University of California Irvine are working with several local Community Colleges to develop pre-engineering programs based on the successful work of SC ATE Center of Excellence at Florence-Darlington Technical College. RapidTech Technical Staff are also working closely with the University, Community Colleges and SC ATE to develop a robust pre-engineering & pre-manufacturing program to act as a feeder system for the university while making sure that the technician educational needs are being addressed by the local Community Colleges. This coupled with the successful partnership previously established with the Orange County Department of Education (K-12) provides a clear career pathway for students with many exit & re-entry points along the way.