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A Look Inside of AMRI

A Look Inside of AMRI

AMRI, short for the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute, is a fellowship program “dedicated to fostering collaboration between the open source Maker community, the DIY Bio community, and the scientific research communities. Fellows at AMRI use their familiarity with open source technology to develop tools used for forwarding scientific research. Mentors at AMRI use their background in scientific research to suggest strategies for overcoming engineering challenges encountered in development of open source technology. The goal is to use this collaboration to improve the general public’s accessibility to science and engineering as a whole.” AMRI is hosted by Rice University‘s Department of Bioengineering, and works out of the BioScience Research Collaborative.

I checked out the lab during this year’s summer fellowship program.

Anderson Ta, a 2013 fellow who is now working in the lab with Dr. Jordan Miller, has been working with 3D Printing and other technology for other years.

“Personally, what lures me into this lab is just applying this new set of technology to real problems,” Ta said. “My early days with 3D printing [had] really stupid trinkets like Yoga heads, and just really impractical objects. It was just one of those things – you acquire this knowledge, and you ask yourself, there’s got to be something better you can do with it. Working with Dr. Miller, the work that’s done in his lab, is really kind of the answer for me.”

2014 Fellow Alex Lee works with the laser-sintering 3D printer and says he applied for AMRI because he wants to help revive American manufacturing.

“I was in Detroit a couple months ago, and Detroit the city has kind of falling on some hard times, and I think this technology can help bring about a new renaissance in manufacturing,” Lee said.

2014 Fellow Harrison Tyler‘s path to AMRI started when he took a digital fabrication course in college (The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore) a year and a half ago.

“Through just the direction of the lab, MIKA really helped to form my interest in digital fabrication as another manufacturing technology, and another way to understand the way things are made, and a way to produce things on your own,” Tyler said. “Since then, I’ve built several 3D printers, I designed one and hosted several build workshops. Through that continued interest, and also through knowing [Ta], and then, I came to visit the lab last March, just because of my interest and what they were doing. I decided to apply.”

2014 Fellow Dale Price said he built a 3D printer in college just as a hobby, and heart about AMRI at a 3D printing convention, Midwest Reprap Festival.

“I really liked the idea that it was an open-source thing for all sorts of people and backgrounds to work together, and I applied because I wanted to be able to accomplish something worthwhile with what I built,” Price said.

2014 Fellow Nick Parker is starting college at Cornell University in the fall.

“I’ve been playing with 3D printers since my freshman year of high school,” Parker said. “I’ve built three of them for myself and local schools. I kind of stumbled into this community called Enable about 9 months ago, which is an online group that builds low-cost, 3D printed prosthetic hands, and then gives them away to people who need them. I did a bunch of stuff for that; I went and spoke at a couple little conferences for that. And then [Miller], when he was planning AMRI, made a Enable fellowship as one of the focus areas for this program, and he messaged me through the community and suggested that I apply, so I’ve been working on Enable stuff here.”

Here is what the 2014 AMRI fellows have been up to: