Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Archaeology Prints Its First Object

In early August, Dr. Kit Wesler was finally able to get his Cubify CubeX Duo up-and-running. Not through any fault of his own; several work orders were stacked up to bring electric and networking to his Terrain Modeling Laboratory. Once the CubeX Duo had a firmware update, a test file was uploaded to the printer. The CubeX Duo is only connected to computer to receive firmware updates. Print files (.STL) are moved to the 3D printer via a USB drive. The onboard computer and menu system provides access to printing specific print files. The short video below shows the printer in action.

The Cubify CubeX Duo was purchased along with a 3D scanner as part of a long-term project to generate models of archaeological artifacts. A collection of model archaeological artifacts would be assembled into interpretive collections for distribution to local primary and secondary schools to enhance students knowledge of local history and culture. These model artifacts would represent primarily the Mississippian culture which existed throughout much of the southeast United States from about 800 A.D. to approximately 1600 A.D. (New Georgia Encyclopedia)

So, what was printed? A rook, the test file provided by Cubify (above). The Murray State coaster and dime (on the coaster) provide scale. The print job took about 4 hours. The level of detail is pretty cool; not seen in the image is the spiral staircase running from the floor to roof inside the rook. Many of these 3D printers create very impressive levels of details even as seen from the outside. If one were to examine these objects closer, the interiors of most objects also contain high amounts fine details only visible by close scrutiny.

3D printing and scanning, outrageously expensive a mere 5 years ago, are becoming nearly commonplace. Such vendors as Cubify, Makerbot, and Printrbot provide entry level printers affordable to home enthusiasts. Some models are less than a $1000, putting them within reach of individuals, schools, and small businesses. 3D printing and scanning is rapidly becoming the basis of DIY, entrepreneurial fabrication, and a necessary tool for the Maker movement.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kentucky Academy of Technology Education at Murray State Brings NAO to Western Kentucky

Parts of this post are borrowed from the WKMS coverage of KATE's latest technology endeavor, the NAO programmable robot. I include portions of the interview to ensure continued coverage of innovative and STEM-related topics which promote local efforts to integrate emerging technologies in education and entrepreneurship.

Kate Lochte and WKMS sat down with Dr. Robert Lyons, Ginny Kelly, and Dwayne Buchanan to discuss the introduction of emerging technologies within Primary and Secondary Education. The newest technology promoted by KATE (Kentucky Academy of Technology Education) is the NAO robot. NAO is a French-made programmable robot developed specifically for educating young minds - and perhaps older minds, too - in the field of robotics and programming.

The NAO, designed and built by Aldebaran, is programmable using a collection of images to move the robot through a set of behaviors. NAO can also be customized by students by learning C++ and create their own set of custom behaviors.

"This is the second year the NAO robot is utilized in the Kentucky Academy of Technology Education program. A middle school in Bullitt County was the first to conduct a trial run. Students were selected to already had an interest in computer programming to try the software and the robot. They took their learning experience to a nearby elementary school for a demonstration. Because of the interest in robots, students who were not necessarily leaders in the classroom stepped forward and became leaders in the project. Feedback shows that 80% of the kids in the trial had gone on to take another programming class in STEM." (WKMS;; August 15th, 2014)
Ginny, Robert, and Dwayne also did a great job of incorporating Make and D-I-Y activities into their discussion.

Please listen to the entire interview at WKMS here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nashville Mini Maker Faire

September 13th, 2014
Adventure Science Center
10 am to 5 pm

The second annual Nashville Mini Maker Faire is coming up soon! September 13 at the Adventure Science Center, over 30 exhibits and 3,000 people will take part in Nashville's Maker Movement.

This year's Crafter's Challenge theme is "cycle."When you hear “cycle”, what do you see? Recycle? Bicycle? Water cycle? Baseball cycle? Now put your vision into a crafted piece and enter the Nashville Mini Maker Faire Crafters’ Challenge. All types of creative crafted pieces are welcome, from sculptures to paintings to quilts to wearables to designs and more. Entries will be displayed at the Faire and winners will be chosen by celebrity judges and popular votes. Thousands of people will see your creation. There are only two simple rules:
Rule #1: Your artwork must incorporate your interpretation of the word “cycle”.
Rule #2: You must fill out a Maker application and indicate you are entering the Crafters’ Challenge.
(From MAKE Blog, 7/30/2014) 

The first annual Nashville Maker Faire featured the Full Scale Millennium Falcon Project, the Official R2-D2 Builders Club, and Master Builder Chris Lee.

Here is a YouTube video of Nashville's 2013 Maker Faire, every exhibit in 2 minutes:

For more information, click the graphic below, or visit

Friday, July 11, 2014

ESRI's ArcGIS Available for Faculty, Staff, and Students

ESRI believes geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future. Governments, industry leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) trust us to connect them with the analytic knowledge they need to make these critical decisions that shape the planet. (from ESRI's Vision Statement) ESRI offers ArcGIS for designing and managing solutions that comprise ArcGIS for Desktop software to discover patterns, relationships, and trends in the data in databases, spreadsheets, or statistical packages. (from Bloomberg BusinessWeek Company Snapshot)

Murray State University, through the Mid-America Remote Sensing Center, offers and supports a variety of ESRI's ArcGIS software products for faculty, staff, and student academic use. The ESRI software of primary interest to most users is ArcGIS for Desktop. ArcGIS for Desktop is the cornerstone application for the analysis of spatial patterns throughout a vast assortment of industries and disciplines.

For users not particularly interested in enterprise GIS software, ESRI offers other means for visualizing geographic data, from ArcGIS Explorer to ArcGIS Online for Organizations. These apps allow access to geographic data through a small, downloadable app run from the desktop, to browser-based access to data already available online provided by GIS servers around the world.

Murray State also has access to ArcGIS Server, allowing for the publishing of GIS data to the general public. ESRI's Collector application allows users to collect field data, such as biology students collecting information about flora or fauna, agriculture students collecting field measurements, or students collecting campus information for building campus map apps.

Murray State University and the Mid-America Remote Sensing Center are members of the Council for Post-secondary Education Commonwealth of Kentucky Site License Agreement with ESRI. Each year, MARC pays a small fee, along with about 18 other universities in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in order to access the majority of ESRI software products.

Updated** The Commonwealth of Kentucky CPE/ESRI Statewide License Agreement covers academic, research, and administration use of ESRI's software products. Academic use includes faculty research, grants, and some contracts.1 ArcGIS Desktop can also be used for serving the administrative aspects of the University, such as campus mapping projects, Facilities Management, and the research and analysis of service region demographics.

ESRI software products can be installed on any university-owned computer or laptop.

Students have access to free, one-year licenses of ArcGIS for Desktop.

Also available are about 80 free Virtual Campus courses. These ESRI-led courses provide educational and training opportunities for faculty, staff, and currently-enrolled students to learn software, techniques, and analysis methods. The added benefit of these courses is they can lead to software certification, transcripts are managed, certificates are provided, and some courses qualify for continuing education credits for professional certifications, such as Professional Engineers or Professional Geologists, or Licensed Surveyors.

For more information about the Murray State University/MARC ESRI Site License Agreement, please contact Michael Busby, the MSU/CPE Site License Administrator (SLA).

I. The HESLA allows for cooperation with non-profit organizations and collaboration with other public institutions as long as the results of the work do not result in any for-profit benefits. For example, engaging in "Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding" with Kentucky Fish & Wildlife for research and analysis of white-nose disease would be an acceptable contract. 

During the planning phase of any grant, contract, or MOA proposal, please contact the local SLA to ensure contract compliance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Autodesk for Students and Educators

Many software companies provide software solutions for colleges and universities. Having some experience with these licenses I can say some companies "don't get it," charging hundreds of dollars to students for trial versions of software which expire after a year. Autodesk, by comparison, does get it.

3D printing and design, 3D scanning technology, and other DIY fabrication devices require software to generate the files used in fabrication. Colleges and universities, after spending money to acquire fabrication technology are often strapped for cash to obtain necessary software. Often, the software arriving with the technology is good, but not "industry-standard." Faculty want to expose students to current software provided by industry leaders.

Years ago, software companies might provided "low-cost" versions of their software to students for educational use. While "enterprise" licenses might cost tens of thousands of dollar "per seat" (per computer), a student license might run $500-$1,000. Students would scoff at such offering despite the 90% discount from list. Software companies, at the time, didn't really understand that if they simply gave their software to schools to use in teaching, the students would want to use the software after gaining the experience, resulting in a built-in user base.

Most companies are catching on to the idea of using colleges and universities to develop a ready-made user base and are literally giving away software, or are engaging in very generous licensing agreements which reduce the cost of yearly licensing to pennies per seat. Kudos to those companies, by the way.

Autodesk has such an offer to colleges and universities. Autodesk offers colleges and universities the chance to enroll in their Educational Community program. Once enrolled, nearly all of Autodesk'
s software is available to the entire campus community.

Just a sample of Autodesk's Educational Community offering

The Autodesk Educational Community allows disciplines across campus to offer instructional software, teach design and encourage creativity. Autodesk is not paying me for writing this post; over time I have used 3Ds Max, AutoCad, AutoCad Map, SketchBook Express. I know people who use Maya as often as I use my wok (a lot).

If your campus is into design, creativity, fabrication, then see if you already are part of the Educational Community. If not, make some noise and see if you can get your institution signed-up for this great offering by an industry leader in graphic arts and design.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

2014-2015 Grant Proposals Now Being Accepted by MSU Office of Regional Outreach

Grant-funding opportunities can arise infrequently yet are important sources of funding for getting an important educational activity started. The Murray State University Office of Regional Outreach helps facilitate education grants and grant-funding.

Murray State University’s (MSU) Office of Regional Outreach has announced its 2014-15 grant funding cycle. Now in its seventh year, the Regional Outreach Grant Program provides seed money for new and innovative educational programming for West Kentucky youth and adults. Applications are accepted for review at any time during the fiscal year (June 1, 2014 through July 31, 2015) as long as funds are available.

Grants are competitive and funding is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are depleted. Grant proposal must include a 1:1 match in funding or comparable in-kind support. 

For complete grant details, please visit

Examples of internal Murray State University grants funded include: Dr. Renee Fister (mathematics and statistics) and Dr. Dina Byers and Dr. Dana Manley (nursing) for their collaborative “Health in a Box” project; Dr. Pam Matlock and Greg Gierhart (education) for their “Math Out of a Bag” program; and Dr. Aleck Leedy (engineering) for “Mobile Engineering Days.”

Some projects in the greater Murray State service region have also received important funding. Examples include Junior Achievement of West Kentucky, West Kentucky Educational Cooperative for the Prescription Drug Awareness Symposium, the Associated General Contractors of West Kentucky for Construction Career Day, and the Pennyrile Resource and Development Council for their “Building Bridges to Success” series for school children at Jeffers Bend Environmental Center and Botanical Garden.

Complete story by Bentley Utgaard can be found at

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nation of Makers

"I am proud to host the first-ever White House Maker Faire. This event celebrates every maker — from students learning STEM skills to entrepreneurs launching new businesses to innovators powering the renaissance in American manufacturing. I am calling on people across the country to join us in sparking creativity and encouraging invention in their communities." President Obama on June 17, 2014
The Maker Movement has gained its most prominent supporter, President Barack Obama. On June 17th, 2014, the White House hosted the first (and I am hoping annual) Maker Faire. From this day forward, June 18th will be known nationally as the "National Day of Making." You can read his proclamation here.

Hundreds of people participated in the White House Maker Faire. David Perry played his 3D printed violin at the White House, Russell the Electric Giraffe made his debut, and 17-year old Darius demonstrated his hand-built 3D printer. Check out the White House Maker Faire website for more details, videos, and a cameo by Bill Nye!

ESRI, the world's leading provider of geographic information systems software, provided a storymap helping illustrate the distribution of participants and provide some background information.

The White House has assumed an important role to help promote innovation and entrepreneurship through the Maker community. Users of Facebook can stay informed by following both Make and Maker Faire Facebook pages. User of Twitter can follow the #NationofMakers hashtag.

In a future post, I'll cover some methods of funding a Maker community, organizing a local Maker Faire, and share some anecdotes of my own experiences.