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U.S. Department of State grant creates new partnership between UNT and institutions in Mexico

Dr. Hector SillerA public-private partnership is helping UNT engineering graduate students hone their skills in additive manufacturing, a rapidly developing technology that builds 3D objects through the successive layering of materials.  

The U.S. Department of State and Partners of the Americas recently announced UNT’s College of Engineering as a winner of its latest 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant competition. 

The $24,996 in funding allows UNT and two institutions in Mexico – the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and CIDESI, or the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development – to start a study abroad course that develops students’ skills in additive manufacturing. Most manufacturing is subtractive, meaning items are built by drilling, cutting or otherwise removing material from a larger piece. Additive does the opposite. 

For four weeks this fall, six students from the institutions in Mexico will join six UNT students for hands-on research projects. They’ll spend Sept. 10 – 20 working in UNT’s new Additive Manufacturing Lab, or AML, to design and build 3D objects using metals and polymers. They’ll travel to Mexico Sept. 21 – Oct. 5. The lab will be integrated into UNT’s newly established Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing, which recently secured $10 million in funding from the Texas Legislature.

 “Additive manufacturing is a hot topic right now,” says Hector Siller, an assistant professor and program coordinator for UNT’s manufacturing engineering technology program. “We have the necessary equipment to train students who’ll eventually become experts using this cutting-edge technology.”

Additive manufacturing is able to produce higher-strength and more energy-efficient materials in nearly any shape. It also reduces the amount of materials needed, wear and tear on parts and use of natural resources. The technology is capable of redefining how objects such as medical implants are constructed.

“The 100,000 Strong in the Americas program provides exciting opportunities for campus internationalization,” says Pia Wood, vice provost and dean of UNT’s Division of International Affairs, formerly named UNT International. “The program provides a unique opportunity for UNT students to enhance their global perspectives through cross-cultural immersion and collaboration with Mexico’s leading research institutions.”

The Innovation Fund, currently sponsored by ExxonMobil, connects public and private organizations in ways that expand academic mobility, strengthen educational cooperation and enhance workforce development.