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Engineering Student Finds His Niche at QCC’s Fab Lab

February, 2019
  • Proud mom Michelle Sheehan shows a photo of her son Nick.
    Proud mom Michelle Sheehan shows a photo of her son Nick.
  • QCC student Nick Sheehan
    QCC student Nick Sheehan sits next to the 3D printer he used to make the bow tie he is wearing.
  • QCC student Nick Sheehan holds one of his Rubik's cubes.
    QCC student Nick Sheehan holds one of his Rubik's cubes.

When Quinsigamond Community College student Nick Sheehan found the Fab Lab at QCC, there was no stopping his creative juices. As the son of QCC Program Assistant Michelle Sheehan, he was familiar with the college but not the college’s Fab Lab. During the summer between his junior and senior year in high school, at the suggestion of his mother, he visited the Fab Lab and was immediately hooked.

His initial plan had been to go to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) after graduating Sheppard Hill High School in 2017; however, after finding out he was wait-listed, he made the decision to attend QCC and do his preliminary classes before transferring to WPI.

“WPI is not cheap and this way I can save money,” he said.

The current QCC Engineering major, who is known for his signature bow-tie and pin-bedecked Red Sox hat has now become a staple at QCC’s Fab Lab.

“I became hooked on going to the Fab Lab and making things with the 3D printers. The first semester at QCC I took an engineering graphics class and learned AutoCAD (computer-aided design software),” Mr. Sheehan said. “This way I can now design things in 3D myself.”

He said his favorite item to design and print are Rubik’s cube-style puzzles. He has designed seven of his own type of Rubik’s cubes and then 3D printed them.

“I got into Rubik’s cubes my freshmen year in high school, after I went to Walmart with my grandma and saw them. I spent time learning how to work them and today I have 250,” Mr. Sheehan said. “Of the seven versions I’ve designed and printed, versions five and seven actually work.”

He said he has worked closely with the lab instructors to learn how to use all the machines in the Fab Lab.

 “They have all been great, especially Nick Bold (Fab Lab Manager). There is so much support there,” he continued.

Today he has taken what he has learned in the Fab Lab and transferred that knowledge to projects at his home, working on his own 3D printer after getting the information about a personal 3D printer from another student in the Fab Lab. He said he went home and told his mother this was what he wanted for Christmas this year.

His mom bought him the 3D home printer and immediately he began printing things from free plans he has found online. In fact, one of the first things he printed was a 3D bow-tie.

Mr. Sheehan’s goal is to still transfer to WPI and obtain an engineering degree. Now he thinks perhaps a company such as FormLabs, a 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer, will be in his future.

“I knew 3D printing was a ‘thing,’ but then I had the opportunity to try it out at QCC’s Fab lab and found out how really neat this all is,” he added.