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“A More Modern Way of Studying”: 3D Printing at Pendergrass Library


ingram and sexton model

Virginia Ingram and Richard Sexton show off her 3D printed laryngeal systems, one before coloring and one after.

Virginia Ingram, a student in UT’s audiology and speech pathology program, learns best by experience.  That is why she contacted Pendergrass Library to 3D print a model of the human larynx.

In Ingram’s anatomy and physiology class with Dr. Tim Saltuklaroglu, students could submit a model for an extra grade.  She realized that having a 3D printed model would help her study and memorize the parts of the larynx.

“I’m a visual learner, and I thought it would be helpful for me to learn some of the different systems by actually being able to hold them in my hand,” Ingram said.  “3D printing is just a more modern way of studying.”

Over two weeks Ingram worked with Richard Sexton, IT Technologist at Pendergrass, to develop her project.  She told Sexton what she wanted, and he suggested various tools to design a new model or find one already in existence.

“Richard helped guide that whole process. He was really collaborative with me for the different types of things that might work,” Ingram said.

Once they selected a model, it took seven hours to print. Ingram then colored the model to memorize the different parts of the laryngeal system.

larynx model cropped

Close-up of Ingram’s models, including hand-colored parts of the laryngeal system.

“Because I’m such a hands-on learner, the section that I did the best in was the laryngeal section.  I believe it was because I got more involved with it and I had something tangible that I could play with, color, and understand better,” she said.

Ingram highly recommends 3D printing to other students.  “It’s a pretty easy process, and the gains that came out of it were worth it and pretty big.  My model was perfect, beautiful, and exactly what I needed.”

Her experience with 3D printing has opened up new opportunities. She mentioned the model to Dr. Molly Erickson, a professor in audiology and speech pathology who researches voice disorders.  Erickson and Ingram are modifying the model and testing the effects of different parts of the laryngeal system on the sound of the voice.

larynx lab rig

Ingram and Erickson are modifying the model to test the effects on the sound of the voice.

Ingram also sees practical applications for her 3D printing.  Her career goal is to work in a clinic, and she plans to print more models to help explain anatomical structures to patients.

In the four years that Pendergrass has offered 3D printing to UT students, faculty, and staff, the library has thrived on partnerships like Ingram’s larynx.

“Partnerships with academic departments expand the reach of 3D printing to those that might not have realized it is applicable to their discipline,” said Sexton.

For more information about 3D printing or to start a 3D project, visit http://s.lib.utk.edu/3dprint.  The Webster C. Pendergrass Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Library is located on the agriculture campus at 2407 River Dr. and serves students, faculty, staff, and the community seeking information related to UT’s Institute of Agriculture.

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