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The Use of 3-D Printing in Behavioral Research – A Proposal for the Interaction Between Engineers and Experimental Psychologists

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Instruments and Methods for Studying Student Experiences and Outcomes

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Hitesh D. Vora Oklahoma State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Hitesh D. Vora is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Technology. He received his Ph.D. and Masters’ from the University of North Texas in Materials Science & Engineering (in 2013) and Mechanical Engineering Technology (in 2008), respectively. Dr. Vora is a Director of the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) at Oklahoma State University, which is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for the year 2016-2021 with total funding of $1.8 million. For those not familiar, the Industrial Assessment Centers help small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers to save energy, improve productivity, and reduce waste by providing no-cost technical assessments conducted by university-based teams of engineering students and faculty. He is actively teaching several courses and pursuing research in advanced (smart/cyber) manufacturing and energy management to improve energy efficiency (reduced energy, cost, and throughput) for small to medium-sized manufacturers.
In addition, he is a Matrixed Professor in the ENDEAVOR Digital Manufacturing Maker Space located in the new ENDEAVOR building, which is a 72,000-square-foot and $30 million building. This maker space provides additive manufacturing support for design courses, laboratory courses, and entrepreneur initiatives. This facility houses several different technology 3D printers that capable of printing parts from polymers, fibers, composites, and metals as well as 3D scanning and subtractive manufacturing equipment. His research focuses on machining and manufacturing with a specific concentration on the use of additive manufacturing processes for advanced materials. He emphasis on design for additive manufacturing (DfAM), topology optimization, lightweight applications, and finite element analysis in additive manufacturing processes. Dr. Vora extensively teaches the additive manufacturing technology through the dedicated undergraduate (MET 4173) class as well as through the hands-on training sessions and certification (level 1 to 4) in the Endeavor Digital Manufacturing Maker Space.

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Charles Ira Abramson Oklahoma State University

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Dr. Charles I. Abramson is Regents Professor of Psychology at Oklahoma State University and founder of the Laboratory of Comparative Psychology and Behavioral Biology. He earned his PhD. in Psychology from Boston University in 1986. He joined the faculty of Oklahoma State University in 1993 and holds adjunct appointments in the Departments of Integrative Biology and Entomology and Plant Pathology. Trained as a comparative-physiological psychologist, he specializes in studying a wide range of behavior in organisms as diverse as flatworm, earthworm, ant, bee, crab, fish, snake, rat, llama, horse, elephant, and human. His research areas include the development and assessment of training apparatus, development of hands-on teaching experiences, the effect of agro-chemicals on learning in honey bees, the use of essential oils and other biological controls to augment pesticides, explorations into the behavior of Chagas disease vectors, the development of a social insect model of alcoholism using the honey bee, the creation of a mathematical model of the learning process based on the first order system transfer function, general issues related to the comparative analysis of behavior, and the use of conditioning methods in general aviation. In addition to experimental based research, he has conducted historical research on the life of the early African American psychologist Charles Henry Turner.

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The past decade has witnessed remarkable advancements in 3D printing or more scientifically called as additive manufacturing (AM). Surprisingly, few behavioral scientists have taken advantage of 3D printing in the design of the apparatus. The use of 3D printing has much to recommend it for behavioral scientists. First, the cost of commercial behavioral apparatus can run into thousands of dollars for a simple “Skinner Box” where animals are trained to press a lever for a food reward. Second, as grant money and start-up funds for young faculty are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. 3D printers allow faculty members to spend significantly less on apparatus costs. Third, for those behavioral scientists wishing to work with more exotic laboratory species such as invertebrates, there are few commercially available apparatuses. In such cases, the behavioral scientist must construct an apparatus on their own which can be time-consuming and often of low quality and limited applications. The inferior quality of many of these “handmade” apparatuses induces experimental errors that influence the experimental results and replicability. Fourth, by having an ability to print 3D apparatuses, it extends behavioral science to a wider range of individuals. For example, high school students and college undergraduates can now develop sophisticated apparatus to study a wide range of behavioral issues. Fifth, 3D printing of behavioral apparatus will lead to greater standardization of apparatus and greater standardization among behavioral laboratories. Our paper discusses the advantages of 3D printing, the type of 3D printers (printing technologies) we have found most useful for various applications, offer practical suggestions on how engineers and behavioral scientists can communicate with each other on apparatus design issues and discuss how apparatus design with 3D printing can increase student interest in STEM field. We first document that experimental psychologists seldom use 3D printer technology and then offer recommendations on how to increase the use of such technology in the behavioral sciences.

Vora, H. D., & Abramson, C. I. (2020, June), The Use of 3-D Printing in Behavioral Research – A Proposal for the Interaction Between Engineers and Experimental Psychologists Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35377

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