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Students at NOVA-Woodbridge use new 3D technology lab to help the visually impaired

Creating 3D images
NOVA students Anthony Salas and Kareem Omeish use Thingiverse to select their templates to create 3D images in the new Technology Innovation Lab.
3D ornaments
Samples of 3D Christmas ornaments to share with NOVA faculty, staff and locals at the first annual 3D printing Christmas ornament exchange on Dec. 3.

Students can now create a physical object from a three-dimensional digital mode in the new Technology Innovation Lab located at the Woodbridge Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

As an interest group and part of the NOVA Woodbridge 3D Printing Council, the technology innovation lab offers NOVA students as well as locals within Prince William County an opportunity to learn about three-dimensional printing and fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology. The purpose of the 3D Printing Council is to illustrate the concept that anyone can, and everyone should, gain the knowledge and skills necessary to produce objects that amaze, educate and positively influence the community.

Lawrence Nightingale, evening and weekend coordinator at the Woodbridge Campus, first took interest in organizing an interest group on campus from his own personal hobby of working with 3D printers to create unique designs. Nightingale hopes to integrate the usage of 3D printing in the lab with the curriculum for information technology (IT) and graphic design majors. During the summer, he assembled the lab’s Prusa 10" i3v printing kits by Maker Farm as a way to make a significant impact within the community and on campus.

“This year we want to use our 3D printing machines to re-create monuments around the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area in order to make them more accessible for visually-impaired community members,” Nightingale said. “We also want to create tactile books to donate to Prince William County visually-impaired children to help them with their early childhood education.”

Members of the interest group have created several braille items for the visually-impaired and will distribute them to anyone in need. In addition, members have received several requests from NOVA faculty to make items that have been useful to the College. On Saturdays, the Council hosts informational sessions at the Woodbridge Campus with other local 3D printing enthusiasts. Kareem Omeish, a psychology major at NOVA-Woodbridge said the desire to advance his technological skills peaked his interest to learn about 3D printing.

“Technology is not one of my strong suits, so it was a good thing for me to become interested in something that I am not initially familiar with,” Omeish said. “I came to the group with an open mind and no experience. Anyone with an interest in 3D printing, graphic design, IT or even welding, this is a great avenue to become engaged in and network with individuals that have a similar interest.”

Anthony Salas, an IT major at the Woodbridge Campus said he and Omeish use Thingiverse, a website used for discovering, making and sharing 3D printable items, to select their templates to create. With guidance from Nightingale, they are also capable of learning how to use coding and detect malfunctions from using the 3D printers.

The interest group will host their first annual 3D printing Christmas ornament exchange on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Seefeldt Building (WS) room 308, 2645 College Drive. Members of the NOVA Woodbridge 3D Printing Council along with those interested are encouraged to bring their best 3D printed ornaments and trade them with others in attendance. For additional information contact, Lawrence Nightingale, NOVA-Woodbridge evening and weekend coordinator at lnightingale@nvcc.edu.

Media Contact: Kristina Ogburn | 703.503.6338 | kogburn@nvcc.edu

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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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