Raptor hand printed with Ultimaker 2+

3D printing across the college curriculum

Folsom Lake College's Innovation Center, a faculty professional development lab and emerging student makerspace, serves as a hub of instructional R&D, creativity, and innovation. As the center's coordinator, Zack Dowell provides professional development for the college’s 117 full-time and 196 part-time faculty, assisting them in the development of classroom activities, programs, curriculum, and innovative, hands-on experiences for their students.

Central to the mission of the Innovation Center at Folsom Lake College is helping willing faculty from whatever discipline infuse making and digital fabrication into their courses and class activities. It is often easier for science and math faculty to see how 3D printing can be applied to their courses - designing and printing Calculus III manipulatives or Biology models, for instance - and so it’s especially satisfying to find ways to use these technologies outside of STEM disciplines.

Early Childhood Education

The Free Universal Construction Kit is a set of 3D models that serve as interfaces between 10 children’s construction toys.  Once downloaded and printed, the models enable connecting, for example, LEGO and K’NEX. Jennifer Kraemer (Professor of Early Childhood Education and maker) has printed pieces for use with students as part of “loose parts” activities in her child development courses, and she and I collaborated on a lesson plan for students who want to use the construction kit in their work with children.


Universal Construction Kit


Gena Estep (Professor of History and maker) and some talented students have been collaborating on a set of printed models to replace paper puzzle pieces for a History test review activity. After developing a quick prototype, we found a student with the skills (and willingness!) to create variable models using OpenSCAD, enabling the STL files themselves to be generated using Thingiverse’s Configurator.


history review


Diane Carlson (Professor of Sociology and maker) used Tinkercad to design custom game pieces for Sociopoly: Life on the Boardwalk a variation on Monopoly used to teach concepts of social inequality, and printed them on one of our Ultimaker 2E+ printers.



Professor Carlson and I collaborated on the development of a new Sociology course - Sociology 379:  Making Social Change which we’ll be offering in fall 2017.  In this hands-on course, students will explore how social movements use tools to enact change, and they’ll use 3D printing and other digital fabrication technologies to address social problems.

In addition to these examples of 3D printing across the college curriculum, we’ve got projects in various stages of development (from concept to prototype) with faculty from Communication and Media Studies, Anthropology, and Studio Art. Stay tuned!