(ATLANTIC) Officials with Iowa Western Community College’s Design Technology program updated the Cass County Board of Supervisor’s on the success of the program at their meeting this morning.
Design Technology Instructor Joe Vanstrom said after the first two years of the program they will have four students graduating from the inaugural class and currently there are 13 students in the 2nd class. He said in just two years the Design Technology program has had an economic impact on Cass County.
“Currently we have four internships within Cass County, four more in development for this new class of students, two internships have led to part time employment after the summer; which means that our students are still contributing to Cass County’s economy, and the other two internships… they were already working there and they are working in Cass County,” explained Vanstrom.
He said Cass County companies have expressed interest in expanding part time positions into full time salary positions upon graduation. He also said three partner companies are planning on purchasing 3D printer systems to expand their R&D abilities.
As far as the future of Design Technology, Vanstrom said there are 30 students enrolled in the 3rd class; fall of 2013. He said they are also hoping to purchase a new piece of virtual design equipment.
“What it is, it’s a laser mapping system. So, if you think of a range finder, it takes one point at a time, this takes 48-thousand points per second.” said Vanstrom. “I can take any object on your table right there and create a virtual model of it just by scanning it with the laser. Once I’ve done that I can put it into our machine and I can replicate it. If I took that coffee mug and I scanned it with the laser scanner and I did a couple little bits on the software and hit print, in about three hours I could have another coffee cup.”
IWCC Cass County Campus Director Ann Pross said for product development, a rapid prototyping opportunity like this is enormous.
“That way you can test and look at the product before you ever invest in the actual production of the product. So, within the software there is all the development phase, but then there’s the testing phase and then we have the ability then to get to that rapid prototype easily and quickly,” said Pross. “What used to cost months at a time and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, our students know how to do that for a product developer and be able to make their company viable. Whereas, they may have never been able to be viable before because they maybe wouldn’t have had the startup resources or the other opportunities to bring that to fruition.”
The seniors in the Design Technology program are participating in a University of Iowa competition to design and build a unique bicycle that can travel over most of Iowa roads in any weather condition. A Senior Design Showcase will be held May 17th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the IWCC Cass County center.