Ismail Fidan recently returned to his home university from his homeland, where he spent the last semester as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Nigde University in Nigde, Turkey.
Nigde, a small city located in central Turkey close to the Cappadocia region, didn’t offer a lot of extracurricular activities, but it gave him proximity to many faculty members and students eager to learn about his specialty, rapid prototyping manufacturing.
“There’s not a lot of social activity, but it is a great city to make a faculty member very productive,” said Fidan, a Tennessee Tech University manufacturing and industrial technology professor. “There are no traffic or air pollution problems.”
Fidan taught the manufacturing processes course for Nigde University mechanical engineering students. He also visited more than a half dozen other area universities, making presentations on rapid manufacturing research and the latest trends. He visited the Fulbright Commission and Turkish National Science Foundation, and he talked to almost 300 K-12 students about manufacturing engineering.
“Seeing the Turkish people very motivated and pretty open to any new technological innovation was fascinating,” said Fidan.
Rapid prototyping is an additive manufacturing process of making a part or product by adding successive layers of material efficiently so there is little waste.
“Rapid prototyping is an almost 20-year-old technology, but it is still emerging to keep the U.S. competitive in the global market,” Fidan explained. “Speed, accuracy and flexibility are characteristics of RP.
“Companies cannot afford to make mistakes when they are bringing a product to market,” he said. “RP has unique benefits. It allows the fabrication of geometrically complex, low-volume or customized parts.”
RP has varied applications in manufacturing, nanotechnology, medicine, engineering, prosthetics, construction, art, gaming, automotive racing, archeology, forensics and clothing design.
Under Fidan’s direction, TTU’s RP distance learning lab makes it possible for students in online classes offered by other institutions to submit their work and produce parts.
“I enjoyed my course and students,” said Fidan. “The students expressed their satisfaction with the course, and they organized a special party at the end.”
Fidan also organized the first U.S.-Turkey workshop on Rapid Technologies. More than 70 attendees discussed trends in rapid manufacturing and heard presentations from American, European and Turkish scholars.
The workshop helped Turkish and U.S. researchers network and identify major shared concerns regarding next generation technologies and processes.
“We explored the next steps that must be taken to identify key research hurdles regarding broad-scale application in both industrialized and developing countries,” said Fidan.
One participant summarized thoughts about the conference this way, “I believe this event has planted seeds that could grown into partnerships, long-lasting business contacts and friendships, and collaborations between Turkish organizations and U.S. organizations.”
Fidan has served as associate editor of the IEEE transactions on Electronics Packaging Manufacturing for the last 10 years and has teaching and research interests in additive manufacturing, electronics packaging, knowledge-based systems and distance education.