A way toward progress for 3-D printing at UTEP

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A way toward progress for 3-D printing at UTEP

Alexia Nava Carmona, Reporter

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On Nov. 8th, America Makes and UTEP announced an update in their agreement regarding 3-D Printing innovation at the university.

“I think being here as a satellite, here at UTEP, here in America, it’s one of the best things that we could ever really ever have. And I think we should take the best advantage of it as possible,” said Héctor Lugo, Instructional Technologist at UTEP in the GAIA center in the UGLC building.

Five years ago, Lugo made a senior project for his bachelor’s degree that included the use of a 3-D printer. He was amazed by what he saw and, since then, it became his dream to make that technology available for all UTEP students and all students from all grades in El Paso.

“It was so fascinating,” Lugo said reminiscing. “Still right now, a reprint, it always amazes me because the fact that you have an idea, just the thought of having something in your mind, something that is intangible, something that you just cannot like you cannot share, you cannot have a physical something. But just after some work, hard work, dedication, at the end by the technology using 3-D printing, you can have it physical right here.  So that’s what really always amazes me, that even though you have an idea, or you’re working with people, just at the end, you get to see the final product, the prototype or your final end product physically. That’s what really amazes me.” 

With help from coworkers, a Microsoft director, and the building coordinator, the 3-D printing service became available to students of all grades and majors, and with a varied set of services that will, in the end, benefit the community, especially with the high demand of even more advanced technology.

“We do a lot of outreach from K through 12 all the way to college. Right now, we are trying to create an awareness for all students that with the advance and the use of high-end technology, such as 3-D printing, you can make infinite, you can do infinite things, and there are infinite possible solutions, you can… there’s never just one correct answer, you can always solve one challenge or one situation in thousands of ways,” Lugo said.

As of now, Lugo and his team in the 3-D printing area are working with teachers to incorporate this advanced technology in their classes, most likely, in the form of class projects that could benefit their students. They are also helping students through workshops that teach them how to use this technology.

“It could be a very basic program all the way to professional software, like Efficient 360 Solidworks, or an Exent. And then, from there, we teach them the process of optimizing their print, and how they can actually just send the file to print by using the cloud system. So, in other words, you can create, you can start designing, you can work like in your house, or you can meet somewhere else in El Paso. Then you get together, you start designing. Then, once you’re done with your design, you can send that file to print by a cloud, so you don’t actually have to come right here,” Lugo said.

As of now, Lugo and his team are preparing themselves for the future, since technology is becoming more and more available for the next generations.

“We see a high demand. A lot of students are aware of the terminology and Maker Space about 3-D designing and 3-D printing. We see, in middle school and also on K through 12, we get to see that they are familiar with this software and that we need to be prepared because there is an incoming big wave of students already prepared with this knowledge and technology, how to use it, and we need more resources,” Lugo said.

Alexia Nava Carmona may be reached at theprospector1@gmail.com.

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