Knowledge and Career - 9/08
Issue: Volume: 31 Issue: 9 (Sept. 2008)

Knowledge and Career - 9/08

“There’s a shortage of designers and engineers in the US today,” laments Jon Cobb, vice president and general manager of 3D printing for Stratasys. It is among the primary reasons Cobb and his colleagues at The Dimension 3D Printing Group, a business unit of Stratasys, Inc. in Minneapolis, founded Extreme Redesign: The Ultimate 3D Printing Challenge, a global design and 3D printing contest for high school and college students.

The goal of Extreme Redesign is to spark student interest in the areas of design and engineering, Cobb explains. “Extreme Redesign aims to give students a taste of the kind of rewarding and exciting work they may be engaged in should they choose careers in these fields.”

The annual contest also provides a forum for computer-aided design (CAD) students worldwide to showcase their creative talents, as well as resources to benefit their educational pursuit. Dimension rewards students with scholarships based on the creativity, usefulness, part integrity, and aesthetics of their designs, whether an improvement to an existing design, a new product design, or an original piece of art or architecture.

Essiah Underwood designed this ceiling fan to appeal to children.

Skilled Students
Over Extreme Redesign’s four years, thousands of students have submitted novel engineering designs, hundreds of which have been brought to life with a Dimension 3D printer. “We had another great turnout this year, with a large group of quality entries that varied widely in form and concept,” says Cobb. The 2007 contest differed from previous years’ events; the Dimension 3D Printing Group added a twist.

In addition to high school-and college-level engineering challenges, the 2007 event included an “art and architecture challenge,” open to both high school and university students. Also for the first time, the nine finalists’ designs—three finalists from each of the three categories—are featured in short Web videos at Longer Web videos for the three winners, including on-location interviews with the students and instructors, are also offered online.

Ashley Bredemus of Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota won in the high school category for her Rubik’s Sphere for the Blind.

“The videos gave us an opportunity to further highlight the finalists and their designs by providing strong visual representations of the designs along with descriptions of the concepts in the students’ own words,” Cobb explains. (The winning videos can be viewed at

The winning designs were chosen from a pool of more than 800 entries from around the world. Judges Karen Moltenbrey of Computer Graphics World, Ian Kovacevich of Enventys, and Scott Schermer of S.C. Johnson had the daunting task of selecting the nine winners. Three first-place winners each received $2500 scholarships, and the remaining six runners-up won $1000 scholarships each.

“All nine finalists submitted outstanding designs,” Cobb observes. “The winning designs were especially compelling and unique. They displayed the limitless design directions of CAD. From a water-desalination unit, to a redesigned Rubik’s cube for the blind, to a butterfly-like ceiling fan, our winners displayed the exciting possibilities available through use of CAD and 3D printing.”

Creativity Celebrated 
The winners were announced in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, at the opening of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ (SME) Rapid 2008 Conference and Exposition.

Ashley Bredemus of Grand Rapids High School in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in the high school category, won for her Rubik’s Sphere for the Blind. The Rubik’s Cube-like puzzle design can be played by the blind, as well as by those who have sight. The puzzle is spherical, easy to grip, and has sides made of triangles, pentagons, and squares—shapes that can be felt as well as seen.

Bredemus employed Autodesk Inventor software and a Dell computer in the making of her design. “There are always design problems,” she says. “I had difficulty getting certain clearances correct so the parts on my project would slide easily. It took several times and several printed models to figure out the correct clearances.”

Essiah Underwood of Metro Technology Centers in Oklahoma City won in the premiere art and architecture category for Bfly Fan.

Bredemus is interested in engineering and may pursue a career in the field. She is certain, however, that she will continue to use a 3D printer during the next six years of schooling. “I think it’s pretty cool how this printer works,” she enthuses. “It’s really an amazing machine.”

George Suarez, an applied physics major at the University of California in Davis, California, won in the university category for his Solar-powered Water Desalination Unit. The water-desalination chamber is designed to provide a reliable, sustainable source of fresh water for communities lacking a sufficient supply of groundwater. The model features a saltwater intake, an evaporation/heating chamber, condensation chambers, and a freshwater outlet.

Suarez, pursuing a career in research and development of alternative energies, used Autodesk’s AutoCAD 2008 for modeling. He has a long history working with CAD and parts modeling, but he had never had a 3D printer output one of his designs. 
“The 3D printer is impressive,” Suarez says. “My curiosity made me try to design the part in a way that would test the effectiveness of the 3D printer. I used a lot of circular and round shapes. The part was spot on!” He is now hard at work on the second phase of the desalinization device.

Ashley Bredemus designed a Rubik’s Cube-like puzzle that is spherical and has sides made of triangles, pentagons, and squares that can be felt as well as seen.

Essiah Underwood of Metro Technology Centers’ South Bryant Campus in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, logged a win in the premiere art and architecture category for Bfly Fan, a butterfly-like ceiling fan designed to appeal to children.

“I had some challenges with the curvature on the wings of the model,” Underwood admits of the design process. The visually stimulating design, created in AutoCAD 2008, sports eight fan blades constructed to look like butterfly wings.

“I’m debating [a career in engineering],” says Underwood, “but I know this is something I’m interested in.” She is likewise interested in 3D printers, which she uses at school. “Of course I will use the Dimension printer,” says Underwood of the future, regardless of the vocation she chooses.

Future Designs
“Congratulations to our three winners and the runners-up for submitting an outstanding range of creative designs,” says Cobb. “I look forward to seeing another round of impressive entries from tomorrow’s designers and engineers as we kick off our 2008 competition.”

Details on the 2008 contest will be announced in the coming months. Students are encouraged to visit and follow the Extreme Redesign links to learn more. 

Courtney E. Howard is a contributing editor to Computer Graphics World. She can be reached at .