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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

$1 Million Naval Grant Supporting Active Duty STEM Education

By Noell Saunders

Old Dominion University's Batten College of Engineering and Technology is providing a total of 15 laboratory-based educational workshops for Navy men and women with help from a $1 million grant provided by the Office of Naval Research.

Sailors from the Naval Station Norfolk-based USS San Jacinto and USS Kearsarge are working on 3D printing, reverse engineering, computer-aided design (CAD), 3D scanning and meshing, rapid spare parts production, product lifecycle management and part retrieval. Sailors from the San Jacinto and Kearsarge are the first to take the new computer-assisted Fleet Maker classes.

Araminta Mack could not contain her excitement when learning she was on the list to take the workshops. Mack, an aviation boatswain's mate first class, said the new technology is changing the way crews order parts while at sea.

"We order everything and sometimes parts are needed that we can't get right away. If we're missing a screw or electrical cover, it will be easy to 3D print it and we're done," Mack said. "No need to wait for backorders."

A research team of nine ODU professors came up with the project they are calling "Creating the Fleet Maker." It aims to stimulate innovative thinking and empower active duty personnel to foster their STEM knowledge, professional development and learn skills in advanced manufacturing. There will be five workshops each year until 2019.

Anthony Dean, the project's principal investigator and an associate professor in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, said the goal is to increase awareness of the new technology and encourage active duty service members to pursue a career in STEM both while in the Navy and after they separate from active duty.

"We have a waitlist of ships waiting to take these workshops. We plan on training over 300 individuals in Hampton Roads," Dean said.

For more information about programming available to service members and veterans at Old Dominion, visit the University's Military website.