Fall 2017 Recipient: Ryan Wantland

Up-scaling small scale models with 3D printing

The THR/EGR 308 course is based heavily on theatrical methods of construction taught by Mr. Ryan Wantland. The program maintains a full inventory of hand, power, and pneumatic tools in the scene shop located behind Boll Theatre in Kennedy Union. The mini-funds have been used to purchase a new small 3D printer which allows students to expand their design ideas since they are not be limited by their physical ability to create a detailed ¼” model of an unit out of matboard or foam core.

The goal of this course was for students to understand the basic theory, techniques and application of engineering technology for the performing arts, gaining an appreciation for the creative process within the context of the arts. Through experiential learning, students have designed, fabricated, and handled theatrical scenery. Students were given an introduction to rigging, backstage organization, tools, materials, hardware, along with standard safety practices and the artistic and practical considerations of engineering scenery and performance technology. The students used the technology to address a social need in the community. Though basic theory, techniques, and application of engineering technology for the performing arts can be taught from a book, theatre is unique and one-of-a-kind. Mr. Wantland and his students are never building or replicating the same scenic design twice. Because of this, oftentimes engineering ideas are unproven and need to be tested to ensure their viability on a small scale. Technology such as 3D printing has allowed him and his students as theatrical engineers and technical directors to print small scale versions of large scale units for testing. With said technology, they are able to test ideas in low risk environments prior to building full size scenic units.

As students learn software to model and program their scenic units, 3D printing produces an immediate small scale replica of their engineered project that can be assessed for feasibility of construction based on time and money, and whether their printed units actually function as designed. Time spent both in class in groups and on an individual basis with Mr. Wantland analyzing the results of their small scale printed units and how they can be altered (if necessary) to produce the desired effect using minimal resources. Lengthy discussion, reflection, and small scale modifications helped students to better understand how choices in the engineering of a scenic unit affect allocation of resources. Working alongside the students during each step of the process, Mr. Wantland assisted and guided the students in helping them to understand not only the technology his students are using, but how access to said technology allows a previously untapped amount of creative freedom.


The Office of Experiential Learning

Roesch Library
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469