3D Printing Farm Cultivates Collaboration Among KSU Art and Engineering Students

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 6, 2020

Though they appear worlds apart, Jeff Campana said art and engineering students actually have a lot in common. Both are often tasked to showcase their creative problem-solving and often use similar tools in achieving their respective outcomes.

“When we’re together, we are often speaking the same language,” said Campana, an associate professor of art in Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design. “An artist might focus on aesthetics and an engineer might focus on functionality, but each can learn a lot about each other’s processes.”

To foster collaboration among the two disciplines, KSU’s Department of Engineering Technology and the School of Art and Design recently partnered to launch the 3D Printing Farm on the Kennesaw Campus. Composed of 3D printing machines, the lab will serve as an interdisciplinary space where art and engineering students can work collaboratively on low-cost designs. The lab also augments the School of Art and Design’s ability to hold courses that use the technology as a way to study functional art. Previously, art students had limited access to 3D printers on the Kennesaw Campus and often traveled to the 3D Center housed in the Engineering Technology Center in Marietta.

3D Printing Farm

“For the artists, this will open the door to so many more opportunities for them as they learn to use this technology,” Campana said. “In just the short amount of time the lab has existed, we’re already seeing a wave of energy coming from the art and engineering students as they begin to intermingle and collaborate on projects.”

The lab traces its roots back to 2015, when Campana was introduced to Randy Emert, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology and director of the 3D Center in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Campana, who was just beginning to incorporate 3D printing into his own work, struck up a conversation about introducing it into the curriculum. In the years since, art and engineering students have worked on numerous projects, including one in which engineering students converted figurines at the Zuckerman Museum of Art into a 3D image, which was subsequently printed by art students. However, they still needed a space to bridge the gap between campuses.

Over the summer, the engineering college acquired 40 low-cost 3D printers, 10 of which are now being used in the farm. Twice a week, engineering technology student assistants visit the lab to maintain the equipment and to help art students with their projects. In the future, Campana hopes to have two student assistants stationed in the lab, one representing each discipline, to build on the existing relationship.

“I think we will find that there is a great deal of overlap,” Emert said. “It’s important for our students to work alongside different disciplines and see how they approach a problem. The end result is a much more diverse learning experience.”

– Travis Highfield

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.