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Penn State to offer course around legal issues in additive manufacturing

Penn State University has announced it is to begin offering a course relating to legal issues through its Additive Manufacturing and Design (AMD) graduate programme.

The course has been designed to help the next generation of innovators become more aware of how to protect their own designs, and not compromise the intellectual property of others. It will supplement a programme that already sees students exposed to a variety of disciplines, including mechanical engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, engineering science and mechanics, and materials science and engineering.

Commencing this summer, students enrolled on the course will learn the fundamentals of creating valid legal contracts, come to understand how patents and trade secrets support innovation in AM, learn how to incorporate product liability law into the design of products and processes, be able to create enforceable trademarks and identify obligations to apply cyber-security and protect privacy rights.  

It all amounts to a course that not only wants to give students the skills to be a competent additive manufacturing engineer, but the scope to start businesses off the back of their innovations.

“Additive manufacturing is disrupting product design and how we manufacture parts,” commented Timothy W. Simpson, Paul Morrow Professor of Engineering Design and Manufacturing and Director of the AMD programme. “It’s also disrupting how we protect our intellectual property. Most engineers are not prepared to think about the impact this will have in how their company will deliver new products and services with AM. Additive manufacturing is creating new ethical dilemmas that companies have to wrestle with. Therefore, we have to prepare our AMD students for those challenges, especially when they take on leadership roles within companies seeking to exploit AM.”

“As a working engineer, I feel this is a valuable knowledge base to have,” added Brenna McCornac, an AM engineer at Cumberland Additive currently enrolled on the course. “I don’t believe that many engineers have the opportunity to learn a lot about the law, especially within their specific field. Those of us participating in this class will be uniquely equipped to work effectively in a corporate setting or start their own business, having a good basis of legal knowledge pertaining to additive manufacturing.”



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