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An Interview with Tom Hull, Florida Polytechnic University
May 4, 2015
One of the latest trends we have seen in 3D printing is the introduction of 3D printing spaces on college campuses. More specifically, more and more campuses interested in 3D printing have opted for the building/installation of MakerBot Innovation Centers, a customizable 3D printing space. We recently learned of a school in Florida, Florida Polytechnic University that jumped on this almost a year ago. Florida Polytechnic is located in Lakeland, Florida and is dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. The fact that the school which founded within just the last few years—the university came into being April 12, 2012—makes this investment all the more incredible. To learn more about their decision and what having one means to their campus we reached out and were granted an interview with Tom Hull, CIO of the university. The interview was conducted via email, and the transcript is here below.
1) What prompted you to look into becoming a MakerBot 3D Innovation Center? Had anyone among the staff and faculty had experience with other 3D printers or 3D design?
The RAD Makerspace started operations shortly after the University opened in fall 2014-15 for its inaugural academic year. In terms of experience, a couple of our faculty and technical staff had some experience in 3D printing and additive manufacturing in the development of new objects and products. But the size and scope of the RAD Makerspace has enabled us to bring in partners like MakerBot, Stratasys, Autodesk and others.
2) What types of reactions have you had across campus since the Innovation Center got up and running?
In fact, the RAD Makerspace is a favorite stop for prospective students and families touring the Innovation, Science & Technology Building, which is the ultra-modern campus building where the lab is located. The RAD Makerspace consistently attracts interest from students, parents, community members and some entrepreneurs.
3) What has been done to promote its existence and technology? Have you begun any cross-campus partnerships since its inception both on campus or out in the community?
4) Who all is able to take advantage of having this type of resource on campus? Is it limited to students taking courses in specific academic disciplines?
5) What impact do you think it has had on the education of your students? Does it give your students a competitive edge over those from other schools?
6) In as much as you can comment, how integral was the administration of the university in getting this done and getting it funded? Was any of this the result of a grant application?
7) Has this first year met your expectations thus far? What have been the biggest challenges presented and how have they been overcome or handled? What have been the biggest surprises, if any?
8) What advice, if any, would you give to another CEO/CIO/CTO, professor, or business who is interested in beginning an Innovation Center on their campus or a place of business?
9) What are some of the long-term goals of Florida Polytechnic as it relates to both 3D printing and education in general?
10) What materials/filament are you printing with, and what are some examples of the products you have printed that you are most proud of to this point?