The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 21, 2013

Marshall gives Scouts look at virtual technology and 3D printer

Scouts attending the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve are getting the opportunity to explore state-of-the-art virtual technology and 3-D printing, thanks to Marshall University’s engineering and advanced manufacturing programs.

Hundreds of Scouts each hour are visiting the Jamboree exhibits sponsored by the university’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing.

CEGAS Director Dr. Tony Szwilski says his group is demonstrating their latest research and development efforts, including an interactive, multi-user virtual program designed to support mine emergency response training.

The program simulates an underground coal mine and uses a video game engine — a platform familiar to Jamboree participants. The format allows users to practice their communications and decision-making skills in dangerous and stressful environments.

“Although this exhibit is just a small-scale version of the Visualization Lab we have on our Huntington campus, the Scouts are fascinated by the 3-D stereo display technology and the virtual environments we have created,” said Szwilski. “This has proven to be a wonderful way to share what we are doing and showcase our programs to future students. It’s been a great experience all the way around.”

RCBI is giving the Scouts an opportunity to experience first-hand one of the world’s most exciting technologies — 3-D printing, which turns digital designs into actual objects. The technology is beginning to be used in the aerospace and automotive industries, health care, architecture, engineering and countless other fields.

Charlotte Weber, the institute’s director and CEO, said her group is glad to be part of the Jamboree and to share the technology with Scouts, who are using RCBI’s printer to produce copies of a fleur-de-lis, the stylized flower used in the Boy Scout symbol.

Weber added, “3-D printing isn’t the wave of the future, it’s happening here and now. Over the last few years, our labs have given dozens of manufacturers and entrepreneurs access to our 3-D printers for everything from rapid prototyping to full-scale production. Now we’re thrilled to be able to offer Jamboree participants a hands-on introduction to this truly revolutionary technology.”

She said she hopes exposure to the possibilities presented by 3-D printing will spur some of the Scouts to become interested in Marshall University, high-tech manufacturing and entrepreneurship.

The Marshall exhibits will continue through the end of the Jamboree on Wednesday.


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