Lab Technician Gregory Dodge talks with Senator Martin Heinrich about Navajo Technical University’s Center for Digital Technology and the work it provides the university and community. The Center houses over $2 million worth of equipment that is utilized to reinforce classroom instruction.
Published February 3, 2016
CROWNPOINT, NEW MEXICO – Over the past five years, NTU’s B.A.S. degree program in Digital Manufacturing has been gaining a national reputation for its work in three dimensional modeling and manufacturing, while the program’s Center for Digital Technology has been obtaining a local reputation for its work within the community.
The Digital Manufacturing program was established in 2011 with support from national agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation in effort to develop local knowledge based in science and technology. Such relationships have helped solidified the program’s national reputation, which is now being leveraged to increase community support.
Last year the Center loaned a three-dimensional printer to students in the 3rd and 4th grades at St. Bonaventure Mission School in Thoreau, NM, where they were allowed to experiment with the futuristic technology. The collaboration produced body armor for a class gerbil and student interest projects that included action figure prints and various molds.
This year NTU will be reaching out to the local middle school and high school in Crownpoint where the Center for Digital Technology will seek to provide demonstrations and hands-on experience for eager students. “The purpose is to get bodies in the lab and involved with fabrication and manufacturing,” stated NTU Lab Technician Gregory Dodge, who has been heading much of the Center’s community outreach efforts.
Dodge stated that the Center will be hosting workshops over the next two weeks for students, staff and faculty of the university in order to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration. The workshops will touch on topics like laser cutting; 3D printing; laser scanning; silicon molding; white light scanning; and several other processes that could help further university initiatives and projects.
“We have a voice and purpose and we need to be included in things in order to improve community action and support,” explained Dodge. “My goal is to get industry and entrepreneurs involved with the program so we can give students the opportunity to work and intern for quality companies.”
Such goals recently got Dodge and electrical engineering student Hansen Tapaha a personal invite to Washington D.C. by Dr. Marvin D. Carr, the Policy Advisor for STEM Education, Innovation and Diversity within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to attend the “I Have a Dream Summit” on the White House grounds. At the summit, Tapaha participated in entrepreneurial workshops where he represented NTU and discussed a homemade laser scanner that he helped develop.
“It was overwhelming,” explained Tapaha, who spoke in front of hundreds of attendees at the event about his dream to achieve the Navajo philosophy of Hózhó. “It was nice to be in the presence of so many successful students.”
Opportunities that Tapaha experienced in D.C. are what Dodge and the Center for Digital Technology are trying to extend to the local community in an effort to increase engagement in science and technology. For more information about NTU’s Center for Digital Technology and its efforts contact H. Scott Halliday at firstname.lastname@example.org.