Saturday, April 5, 2014

Iowa Southwest Valley Residency

In January I had the opportunity to be artist in residency at a middle school and high school in Iowa's Southwest Valley.

As part of the residency, I led a series of workshops and demos on 3D printing and digital fabrication.  While visiting, I also built a custom 3D printer (pictured above - derived from the Prusa I3 design) for the school, in hopes that these technologies could continue to inspire creativity for SWV's faculty and students after I left.  

Before heading to Iowa, I prepared some of the parts for the printer.  Frankie Flood (founder of UWM's Digital Craft Research Lab) helped me CNC route the framework of the printer, pictured above, from a sheet of PVC plastic I had left over from a past project.

Some of the structural components were prepared in Iowa, as SWV has a very nice and well-equipped wood/metal shop.

I worked with SWV faculty to assemble and calibrate the printer.  Mathematics and Spanish teacher Daniel Mahn turned out to be a whiz with the soldering iron.

During school days I ran a total of twelve demos/workshops with SWV students, and in the evenings I led several professional development sessions with SWV faculty.  I trained several faculty members on using the 3D printer.  They were quick learners and when I left I felt confident that this printer would get a lot of use in future art and computer science classes.

My re-design of the Prusa I3 was quite successful.  It yields beautiful and consistent prints - I will definitely be building more of these in the future.  When I get some time to compile all of the design files, I'll be sure to share them on thingiverse.

I had a wonderful time working with the students and faculty at Southwest Valley.  I was sad to say goodbye - I made some great friends during my stay, and my experiences from this residency have greatly impacted the way I think about pedagogy and collaboration.  Thank you, Southwest Valley, for providing this amazing opportunity. 

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