Area students explore 3D printing at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN – Lowellville High School student Grace Sotlar said after spending time this week in Youngstown State University’s Engineering Department, she definitely wants to pursue a career in 3D printing.

Sotlar and other students were learning engineering design and analysis techniques, prototyping and 3D printing on Wednesday in celebration of the National Day of Making.

“They’re actually learning the steps of being a design engineer,” said Hazel Marie, associate professor and chair of mechanical and industrial engineering.

Marie instructed the students with their designs, some of which included their favorite characters.

Hubbard High School student Mackenzie Smiley, 17, created a 3D model of Captain America’s shield.

“I’m a really big Marvel fan and I thought it would be really cool to make. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” she said. It took her a half hour from start to finish, and she said she plans on placing the 30 mm shield on a keychain.

Although Smiley is planning on going into the chemistry field, she said what she learned this week can also be applied to her future career.

“Everything is technology at this point, so learning the software is a big help,” she said.

The students spent the week touring different areas of campus as part of the Summer Honors Institute. In addition to 3D printing, they also had the opportunity to learn about health care, crime scenes, musical theater, Harry Potter, thermodynamics, acting, First Amendment rights, financial investments and entrepreneurship.

Visitors were invited to observe the 17 students while they designed and prototyped their engineering designs on Wednesday, which also coincided with the first White House Maker Faire that also celebrated the National Day of Making.

Zach Howard, 13, of Poland, decided to design a star pattern with his initials instead of a character.

“I just thought it would be different,” he said.

Sotlar, however, designed Piglet from the Winnie the Pooh stories – one of her favorites.

“I traced it from a picture. It’s really cool; I like it a lot,” she said of the program.

Marie said one of the best things about the Honors institute is seeing former students go on to pursue a career in engineering. She was recently contacted by a student who decided to become an engineer after her experience in the Summer Honors Institute.

Marie also said the students are learning so much more than just how to make a 3D design. They are also analyzing their designs to see where the weak spots are and to make sure everything meets their specifications.

“By the time you get to the prototype, you feel very confident in your design. It’s not just trial and error. They’re really amazing,” she said.