For the first time, Rice University and the people from RepRap established a summer fellowship program that took place this August. The program, initiated by RepRap developer Jordan Miller, is called the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute (AMRI), enabling a select few students the opportunity to get their hands on RepRap’s 3D printing technology, as a tool to aid them in conducting their own, month long research projects.
As stated on RepRap’s own personal blog the goal of the fellowship was “to provide breakthrough mentorship, infrastructure, and research funding for promising young makers to pursue their interests using the scientific method,” The access to these tools is hard to come by on college campus’s today, yet the opportunity to push the envelope further using the resources provided at AMRI is one that any student with even the slightest knowledge of 3-D printing would drool over.
The four fellows, or makers, that took part in this year’s inaugural program looked to capitalize on the unique opportunity presented before them. While working closely with graduate and undergraduate students in the research facility at Rice University, the fellows utilized the biological knowledge and advice from those students, combined with their own ideas on the maker side of the project. This initiates the young fellows interaction with experts in the field, as they together aim to attack the fundamental research questions scientists from all over the world are analyzing.
Each of the fellows project’s varied in its focus. Andreas Bastian examined the possibilities of open source SLS. He hopes to push this technology further through experimentation by analyzing the whole process and any flaws or issues there may be currently. Steve Kelly is attacking the idea of trying to push the inkjet 3-D printer with the goal of eventually being able to modify bacteria. Ravi Sheth is also striving to successfully and efficiently 3-D print biological cells.
As fellow, Andreas Bastian, points out “It’s satisfying… exercise a tool on a very pressing, relevant problem. Granted people do need Iphone cases, but people also need kidneys a lot more,” recognizing the widespread use and endless possibilities of 3D printing, yet acknowledging the importance and impact that 3-D printing can and will have in the biomedical field.
The goal of the program moving forward is to continuously attain knowledge and push the limitless possibilities of 3D printing, using young, brilliant minds who hold nothing but the future in their hands.