3D printers give engineering classes a boost

With the help of a grant, the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy is using a 3D printing system, along with animation workstations with animation and visualization software, to help its students better understand how different medications impact molecules and proteins.

The College of Pharmacy plans to open a 3D Center for Biomedical Sciences at URI. The 3D center will be housed in a $75 million pharmacy building that is currently under construction. Professor Bongsup Cho, a biomedical scientist, said the new center will elevate URI’s research reputation and ability.

“Flat diagrams of chemical/biological and physiological actions have always been a less than optimum way to teach students,” Cho said. “Now, we will not only have the ability to look at such phenomena on a computer, we will be able to produce physical models that students can touch, look into and physically examine how molecules interact.

“This is a great way to help them grasp complex molecular and cellular processes. Sometimes, there is nothing like texture and feeling,” Cho said.

More than 1,000 students a year will use the 3D animation and printing technologies, and the new 3D center will be open to K-12 students through URI’s Science and Math Investigative Learning Experience, which serves about 240 public school students across the state.

Laura Ascione

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