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Open house set for 3DU ‘makerspace’ facility in Technology Commons

The Technology Commons at Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library is planning an open house to allow members of the campus community to check out the 3-D printing capability and other current technology located in the recently opened digital “makerspace” facility known as 3DU: Discover, Design, Develop.

Mark Stoffan displays a digital file of a familiar WCU landmark, the Alumni Tower, on a desktop at the 3DU in the Technology Commons.

Mark Stoffan displays a digital file of a familiar WCU landmark, the Alumni Tower, on a desktop at the 3DU in the Technology Commons.

The open house is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, in the Technology Commons, located on the ground floor of the library.

3-D printing, the process of making three-dimensional objects from a digital file, already takes place in specialized classes such as engineering courses taught in WCU’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology. The opening of the 3DU will allow 3-D printing to be offered to WCU students across all colleges and departments, said Mark Stoffan, head of digital, access and technology services at the library.

In addition to 3-D printing, the 3DU also offers software for creating and editing audio and video files and scanning stations for transferring physical content to digital formats.

Plastic filament (made from eco-friendly corn starch) feeds into the 3-D printer from the top as the printer nears completion on a model of the Alumni Tower.

Plastic filament (made from eco-friendly corn starch) feeds into the 3-D printer from the top as the printer nears completion on a model of the Alumni Tower.

The primary goal of the 3DU project is to enhance students’ digital literacy and critical thinking skills, Stoffan said. The library collaborated with WCU’s Division of Information Technology to create the new lab in the Technology Commons space. “The partnership enhances staffing for the facility and allows students to draw upon the combined strengths of the library and the Technology Commons. We anticipate that many faculty members will employ this new technology in their courses,” he said.

The State Library of North Carolina awarded Hunter Library a Literacy and Lifelong Learning Grant of $48,524 to create the lab. Funding was made available through the Library Services Technology Act and was administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

In conjunction with the opening of the 3DU, workshops will be offered in the near future by library and IT staff on digital literacy and digital humanities topics.

Demonstrations of the new technology will be given during the Nov. 5 open house and light refreshments will be served.

More information about the 3DU is available by visiting http://3DU.wcu.edu or by contacting Mark Stoffan at mstoffan@wcu.edu or Sara Smith at sdsmith@wcu.edu.

Sara Smith shows off a model of the Alumni Tower printed earlier with green filament.

Sara Smith shows off a model of the Alumni Tower printed earlier with green filament.

— Contributed information

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