Simpson’s expertise in 3-D printing and partnerships with industries led to every mechanical engineering student becoming skilled in designing printable materials in Penn State’s Maker Commons. Simpson helped fix bottlenecks in the printing process, allowing students to take full advantage of technological resources at University Park so that students could gain hands-on experiences working with partners such as Boeing, KCF Technologies, Discovery Space and State College Area School District.
Graduate students are also benefiting from Simpson’s expertise.
He developed, launched and now leads the additive manufacturing and design master’s program, one of the first in the nation, boasting about 70 students in its first year of offering.
Since becoming a Teaching and Learning with Technology 3-D printing fellow in 2015, Simpson’s work has led to several NSF-sponsored projects resulting in more than $1 million to conduct 3-D printing educational research with colleagues across campus. That’s led to partnerships that have produced new 3-D printing applications for teaching and research, evaluation methods for printed materials and recently the use of machine learning to create design guidelines for 3-D printing. These partnerships are offering hands-on experience for students, enhancing their learning and helping prepare the next generation workforce to use 3-D printing to its full potential.
Simpson’s collaborations with the College of Arts and Architecture led to a curriculum that encourages students to engage with a range of design concepts, tools and processes under the umbrella of “making.” These initiatives led to general education offering titled “making for the masses,” which brought together many faculty and students from wide-ranging disciplines.
“I’m thrilled to recommend Dr. Simpson for this award, which has the potential to shed additional light on the pivotal role he is playing not only engaging with technology but fostering collaboration in disciplines across campus,” a nominator said. “In ways that range from small to large, from undergraduate education to advanced and specialized research at the highest levels, Dr. Simpson’s impact has been remarkable.”