Assistant Professor Kira Barton has been selected by the National Science Foundation as a CAREER Awardee, based on her research proposal entitled “CAREER: Pushing the Boundaries: Advancing the Science of Micro-Additive Manufacturing.”
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, which exists within the National Science Foundation, offers awards to junior faculty who have exemplified the ideal teacher-scholar dynamic. In other words, the program advocates research in unison with education as a means to further a specific mission. The grant differs from other NSF awards, in that the stakes are set higher. Projects are expected to be new and innovative, and there is greater focus placed on education as well as outreach.
Abstract: “The research objective of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award is to investigate the next generation micro additive fabrication science and technology to enable high fidelity, 3D printing at the micro-scale. Barriers that preclude advancements in this paradigm stem from a lack of standards for designing, modeling, and controlling new processes. This research addresses these barriers through the characterization of key design criteria, process parameters, and environmental conditions. These three areas provide the foundation for modeling and control laws that will improve the performance of 3D printing at the micro-scale. The educational goal is to introduce students, teachers, and parents to the intellectually diverse field of manufacturing with emphasis on the cross-disciplinary nature of the advanced manufacturing paradigm. This will be accomplished by developing interactive outreach activities and workshops tailored for families and K-12 students, integrating research findings into classroom modules for undergraduate and graduate courses, and providing research opportunities to underrepresented students. Research results will have a direct impact on the way the U.S. manufactures functional electronics, biosensors, and optics at the micro-scale. This research aligns with national interests in manufacturing by improving the fundamental science and providing the enabling tools for advancing 3D printing technology at the micro-scale. 3D printing can be used as a low-cost, flexible alternative for fabrication without a cleanroom environment. Educational initiatives and outreach programs will recruit, educate, and retain the next generation of manufacturing engineers through a unique interactive program conducted in collaboration with local science and technology museums. The research results will be disseminated through publications aimed at reaching local, national and international audiences.”