Abstract: Context: Short courses in Additive Manufacturing (AM, colloquially known as '3D Printing') often provide only a cursory coverage of engineering principles. The final year subject 'MECH482 Introduction to Additive Manufacturing' was developed with the aim of providing solid academic grounding and practical experiences in this new field of study, for higher education engineering students. The subject delivery incorporated the Project-Based Learning (PjBL) paradigm (Williams and Seepersad, 2012).
Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of teaching AM to final year higher education engineering students, including the use of PjBL as a method of reinforcing taught content.
Approach: The inaugural offering of the subject 'MECH482 Introduction to Additive Manufacturing' comprised lectures, tutorials and labs, complemented by group discussions, video clips, guest speakers and site visits to AM production / research facilities. Lecture and tutorial coverage included: basic concepts and history of AM, Design for AM (DFAM), AM software, STereoLithography (STL) format, AM process chain, Vat Polymerization (VP), Powder Bed Fusion (PBF, polymer Laser Sintering - pLS and metal Laser Sintering - mLS), Extrusion-based (Fused Deposition Modelling - FDM), Material Jetting (MJ), Binder Jetting (BJ), Directed Energy Deposition (DED), and Direct Write (DW) processes, Medical applications and future directions. Throughout the subject theoretical and practical content was progressively incorporated as per the PjBL paradigm. Students were also able to build upon skills learnt in prior subjects such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 'soft' skills such as quality assurance, project management and presentation. The subject culminated in a Group Assignment representing a major proportion of the students' overall assessment. Deliverables included a written report, an additively manufactured item and an oral presentation. Additional assessment was via written examination (mid-session quiz and final exam), tutorial questions and AM lab exercises. A purpose-designed AM Laboratory with seven 3D printers was provided by the Faculty for student use.
Results: Key measurable results, taken from Faculty result sets and student Subject Evaluations, included No. of enrolled students: 45; Gender breakup: female: 5 %, male: 95 %; Attendance rate of lectures and tutorials: 80 %; Unscaled composite results: 81 % HD, 19 % D; Overall student satisfaction with subject: 90 %. Subject evaluation feedback indicated that students responded positively to the variety of teaching methods employed. Students commented that they particularly benefited from applying their theoretical knowledge of AM to the building of tangible physical models as per the PjBL paradigm (University of Wollongong, 2014). However student feedback also indicated that the subject difficulty and academic content was set too low for a final-year subject. This was reflected in the high pass rates. Subsequent iterations of this subject have sought to increase the level of academic rigour, content and difficulty to a more acceptable standard commensurate of a final year subject.
Conclusions: The subject has proven to be a popular choice for final year students with a number of our graduates now being employed in the AM sector. It is hoped that methods of teaching employed in this subject, including PjBL, will further facilitate students' active participation in the "... new paradigm in engineering education of creativity-led, innovative thinking with design acumen." (Littlefair, 2013).
To cite this article: Harvey, Steven. Teaching additive manufacturing in a higher education setting [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 329-336.
[cited 29 Apr 17].