Q&A: Alethea Ganaway, 3D Digital Design and Manufacturing Technology Program, Cuyahoga Community College


With degrees in history, urban planning and architecture and a solid background in mathematics, it might seem unusual – at least on paper – that Alethea Ganaway has a passion for spreading the gospel of additive manufacturing, or as it goes. more commonly called 3D printing. In fact, due to her background in architecture, she has a deep understanding of the engineering principles involved in 3D printing.

Ganaway oversees Cuyahoga Community College’s 3D printing/additive manufacturing program in the college’s Manufacturing Center of Excellence. Crain’s recently spoke with Ganaway about the rise of additive manufacturing and the new ideation station at Tri C – a new 2,400 square foot maker lab coming online at its metro campus that is open to students, teachers and the community.

What is your sales pitch to future students?

Additive manufacturing is the industry of the future. Manufacturing is changing – what we do and how we do it. When I go out and talk to people, I tell them that employers need people who understand design and development and how to use a 3D printer. And it doesn’t just have to be in the making. You can be an artist, someone who works in the medical or dental field. That’s why people should care.

What is a misunderstood component of additive manufacturing?

That there are actually engineering principles involved in the software and materials you can use. It’s more complicated than what you see on TV. We don’t often hear about the technical part of the definition of “additive”. It’s called “additive” because you’re adding layers of material on top of each other.

What is your favorite part of this area?

The flexibility to be able to print just about anything. It’s new, it’s growing. It’s exiting. There are so many advances going on. Anyone can come from our program. Art majors who want to learn how to use additive manufacturing to express their art through different mediums. We also teach realistic applications. In the capstone course, students design prosthetics for veterans. These are real world applications – not just theory.

What interesting project have you worked on with a 3D printer?


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