3D Company Provides Free Licenses to Widen Tech Talent Funnel

Additive Manufacturing Company Provides Free Licenses to Widen Tech Talent Funnel

June 3, 2021
"To succeed in additive manufacturing you need to be analytical, creative and curious," explains Duann Scott of nTopology.

Hoping to steer 2021 grads toward tech fields, nTopology, an additive manufacturing company, who counts Lockheed Martin, Wilson and Oak Ridge National Lab as customers, started a program called nTopEd. The program provides free licenses to students, allowing them to engage in additive manufacturing design and learn about the industry.

The class of 2021 is looking at a favorable job market, with companies projected to hire 7% more entry-level employees than they did from the class of 2020. So nTopology is hoping to attract this year’s graduates to the tech field. 

 IndustryWeek asked Duann Scott, vice president of business development for nTopology, to talk about his company’s efforts to encourage students to the additive manufacturing (AM) field.

IW: What advice would you give to new grads looking to go into AM?

DS: For many new graduates 3D printing was normalized through exposure to low-cost, desktop 3D printers which gives them an advantage over engineers whose experience often hones their intuition towards processes they know and understand. It is good to develop a general knowledge of a broad range of industrial processes, each which have their own nuance and design constraints. Read as much as you can in reputable journals but beware of the flashy case studies that are often pure marketing plays with zero engineering or business case behind them. 

 IW: What skills do you think new grads need to get into AM?

DS: To succeed in AM you need to be analytical, creative and curious. There is always more to learn as the technologies quickly evolve and the potential use cases expand so it is critical to stay on top of new developments. The industry is very interconnected and nurturing and there are increasing opportunities for employment. 

IW: Do you believe schools will offer more AM courses as part of existing engineering programs?

DS: We are seeing a massive uptick in AM coursework over the past three years and in 2020 we saw a lot of interest from professors to have nTopology application engineers present on design for additive manufacturing (DfAM).

We also have an education program whereby we give nTopology licenses for free to all students and professors so when the next generation of engineers enter the workforce computational and generative design will be natural to them. We are already seeing graduates bring nTopology into the companies they enter to solve problems that the existing engineers were struggling with. That is pretty good for a new graduate's reputation in a company.

IW: What do you think is contributing to AM’s growth?

DS: We are seeing four major factors, the hardware being refined for production rather than prototyping and the introduction of lower cost and faster systems.  The material palette is expanding with a broader range of materials, and improved process parameters leading to better material properties. The design tools are improving to create geometries optimized for AM processes. If you do not design for the process it is near impossible to make the business case to use AM to manufacture a component. Finally, more and more engineers are beginning to understand the true value of additive manufacturing, and more schools are investing in facilities and educating the next generation of engineers about AM.

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