by Patrick Vicente June 09, 2018

A team of engineering students and faculty from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) worked with Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (UAO) to develop a 3D printer powered by a unit harnessing multiple energy sources within developing areas. The project hopes to help at-risk youths in Cali, Colombia harness valuable skills in additive manufacturing.

As part of the Multidisciplinary Senior Design (MSD) program, the project is a two-semester senior course that combines engineering theory and practices within a collaborative environment.

Six RIT electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering students along with the UAO team came up with the idea for a solar-powered 3D printing system that could remain fully operational at all times.

The goal is to implement this printing system in Colombia because their electricity isn’t that reliable and because 3D printers need a constant flow of electricity to function,” said Joshua Cohen, an RIT engineering student. “Having those backup power sources like the solar panels or the battery or also being able to plug into the grid are all things that will keep this printer up and running in the community.

Led by RIT Associate Professor Marcos Esterman and his former student Alvaro Rojas Arciniegas, this project is the first in an agreement made by RIT and UAO intending to develop student and faculty research relations focused on international product design theory and commercialization for developing economies. Both universities aim to broaden regional economies through international collaboration from students.

Following the success of RIT’s solar-powered 3D printing system, Esterman hopes to expand the partnership into a series of academic programs that will allow students gain design and development experience.


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Patrick Vicente
Patrick Vicente


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