R.B. Annis School of Engineering Kicks-Off Summer 3D Printing Camp

The Summer 2022 Engineering Day Camp welcomed a dozen young engineers to the University of Indianapolis R.B. Annis School of Engineering this week. Now through July 1, 2022, students will explore the field of engineering through hands-on projects and lessons led by UIndy engineering faculty. 

This year, students will focus on 3D printing and robotics, including assembling, operating and optimizing their own 3D printers, which they will be able to take home with them when the camp concludes.  The camp also strives to hone students’ engineering and entrepreneurial mindset through activities like pre-college classes, career mentoring, as well as presentations on college scholarship opportunities. 

Not only are students gaining hands-on experience in assembling machines, but they are also learning essential math, physics and software skills. A portion of the camp’s schedule is dedicated to students learning about CAD – using computer-based software in their design process. Students will use Fusion360 to design components of robots, which will be constructed using 3D printed pieces. Throughout the camp, students will compete in various challenges like obstacle courses, races and even sumo wrestling, to test their robots’ abilities. This is where physics and math come into play as things like friction, circumference of wheels, tread design and other aspects will affect the performance of their robots. 

Dr. Paul Talaga, camp director and associate professor of engineering at UIndy, hopes students learn the basics of rapid prototyping and the engineering design process. 

“Our summer camp is designed to show students how accessible and fun designing in CAD and printing their designs on a 3D printer can be,” said Dr. Talaga. “To challenge the students, we’ve designed a simple robot that can be 3D printed and either controlled by remote control or autonomously. Students will CAD and print these parts, test their robot, and iterate their design to improve its performance. Along the way we show how statistics, geometry and physics can help them improve their robots.” 

This year’s camp is a part of the UNITE Summer Camp site program. UNITE is a pre-collegiate summer program for talented high school students from groups historically underserved and underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and an initiative of the Army Educational Outreach Program, administered by the Technology Student Association (TSA). Thanks to a grant provided by UNITE, students are able to attend camp free-of-charge and receive a weekly stipend of $100 (for a total of $400). 

“The UNITE program is truly transformational for these students,” added Dr. Talaga. “It allows us to share the fun of engineering with students that otherwise may not be able to experience such a camp. Plus, by providing them with a 3D printer they built themselves, their engineering exploration can continue well after the camp concludes.”