Hudson Valley Becomes Engineering Innovation Hub
John Jordan | August 2015
NEW PALTZ—Engineers will be needed in a host of technological and manufacturing industries in the years to come and the Hudson Valley is at the forefront of advancing new engineering technologies, including the development of 3-D Printing, and educating the engineers of tomorrow.
The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp., in collaboration with SUNY New Paltz and others, has made major inroads in establishing the Hudson Valley region as a center for engineering innovation in a relatively short amount of time.
In May 2013, HVEDC launched its HV3D industry cluster economic development initiative by bringing together a coalition of partners together at SUNY New Paltz to form the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center. The center promotes collaboration between students learning the college’s new Digital Design and Fabrication curriculum and local companies, to develop prototypes for next generation products. In 2014, HVEDC fostered the college’s relationship with Brooklyn, NY-based MakerBot, the leading manufacturer of desktop 3D printers, to open the nation’s first MakerBot Innovation Center at SUNY New Paltz.
Last fall it was announced that an Engineering Hub would be built with $10 million in funding awarded through the highly competitive NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. The Engineering Hub will provide much needed instructional and research space, while also addressing the critical shortage of mechanical engineers. It will also include 10,000 square feet of office and lab space for companies looking to participate in START-UP NY, HVEDC officials stated.
Firms active in advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, and other related industry sectors have expressed interest in such collaboration. The Engineering Hub will partner with area community colleges to link 3D printing courses and engineering programs to advanced manufacturing and technologically innovative companies.
Laurence P. Gottlieb, president and CEO of HVEDC, said, “After launching HV3D two years ago, we are consistently seeing tangible results of this economic development effort, which would not have been possible without our partners SUNY New Paltz, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation and Hudson River Ventures.”
The establishment of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center was made possible through grants of $250,000 each from Central Hudson Gas & Electric and Hudson River Ventures. In addition to the aforementioned $10-million funding award, the center was also awarded $1 million from Gov. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council program and Empire State Development Corp. and $850,000 in state funding made possible with the assistance of State Sen. John Bonacic.
Real Estate In-Depth recently interviewed Daniel Freedman Ph.D., Dean of the School of Science and Engineering and Director of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz, on the engineering initiatives offered at the center and the exciting possibilities 3D printing offers to the business and arts communities in the years to come.
He said that about four years ago the School of Science and Engineering and the School of Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz designed a certificate program called “Digital Design and Fabrication” to introduce students to 3D Computer printing and design. The program is going into its third year in the fall.
“That has been attractive to a lot of professional artists and designers and some engineers who are looking to get some background in the skills and technology (of 3D printing),” Dr. Freedman said. Next year in addition to being a four-course certificate program, it will also be offered as an undergraduate minor.
Dr. Freedman said that 3D printing has been used in prototyping for several decades. “Most consumer products and most things in machinery are prototyped on a 3D printer before they are actually produced,” he said. “It is a great way to increase the pace of the innovation process because you can design something in a CAD program, prototype it, check it for fit and function and then very quickly change the model in the CAD program and then reprint another copy of it so you can make very quick changes and then update them to get to a final product very quickly.”
He added that there has been a significant increase in end products that have been produced by 3D printers. For example, he said that 20% of the parts in the latest Airbus jet were directly printed by 3D printers.
Aerospace and automotive are two huge areas for 3D printing,” Dr. Freedman said.
In about a year since the establishment of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz, the center has worked with about 80 individuals or businesses from New York City, the Hudson Valley and up to Albany. Those who have sought assistance from the center have included entrepreneurs developing products, manufacturing companies, set designers, and artists.
“It is a very flexible technology that can be applied to just about any place where you want a real object,” he added.
The Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center is currently working out of two buildings at SUNY New Paltz but will be relocating in the fall to the former Smiley Art Building. The center has approximately 40 3D printers, most being desktop-sized. He said the center is in the top 5% of all 3D printing facilities in the United States.