A professor of industrial and systems engineering at USC has finished developing a three-dimensional “printing” device that creates buildings, which is now being incorporated into research and lectures at USC.Building blocks · A 3-D printer, named as a top 25 invention by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, was developed by a USC professor. – Photo courtesy of Berok KhoshnevisBerok Khoshnevis began work on his Contour Crafting device in 2000 after recognizing fabrication technology’s ability to create buildings. In 2006, it was named one of the top 25 inventions by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Khoshnevis said he believes this new technology that is working toward building full-scale structures is the future of home creation.Khoshnevis compared his work in the engineering of architecture to “the Wright Brothers’ 12-second flight for aviation.” He described his work as just the beginning of a much longer process that will eventually lead to an entirely new industry.Contour Crafting creates structures solely by a computerized process. In the process — called “robotically guided extrusion” — the 3-D printing device expels a concrete-like substance out of a nozzle and forms structures by building up, layer by layer. The nozzle moves in space to create the patterns, dictated by a computer.Much different than a traditional paper printer, the device stands 13 feet high, 17 feet wide and 25 feet long.This is only a prototype, Khoshnevis said, and the actual device will be much larger. Currently, the device primarily builds models of homes.Steven Nutt, professor of material sciences and mechanical engineering at USC, worked alongside Khoshnevis on developing the material used for the buildings.“[It was] challenging to develop a material that will flow and also rapidly harden sufficiently to carry weight of subsequent layers without slumping,” Nutt said.The problems of clogs in the nozzle also arose, which complicated development process. It took 10 years and 15 patents to create the material and extrusion process used today.Now, the project is at the forefront of fabrication technology in architecture, he said.“It is significant and important if he succeeds because automation has not been incorporated into construction … virtually everything else [today] is highly automated,” Nutt said.Contour Crafting has been used at USC in many ways. Students have access to a professor who is “an expert in rapid prototyping techniques … developing a new approach to construction,” Nutt said. Khoshnevis incorporates the technology into his classes both by teaching the concept and by using it as an example.For USC students, the technology opens up a multitude of possibilities for careers and research, Khoshnevis said. In addition to architectural and engineering careers, Contour Crafting creates careers in fields such as labor relations studies, economics, real estate, policy planning and urban development. Research can be based in the above fields or in materials, software, robotics or architectural design.“I think it will totally change the construction process … there’s a certain [design] freedom in [expediting the building process],” said Brittany Moffett, a freshman majoring in civil engineering in building sciences.In the future, the project could solve many of problems found in construction, Khoshnevis said.“It only uses 25 percent of the energy and eliminates 70 percent of the waste [compared to traditional building methods],” Khoshnevis said.The project could eliminate many construction-related deaths and injuries by eliminating man-powered construction sites.It could also speed up the construction process and bring down costs significantly. Khoshnevis said that a building could be built mere days with Contour Crafting, and “the cost of construction will be cut down to one-fourth or one-third of what it is [now].”He hopes the technology will be used to solve many of the world’s problems, such as speeding up disaster recovery efforts, bringing affordable housing to third world countries or even building in outer space.“[This is] just the beginning of the process, so I shouldn’t set an end date … it will continue as long as this approach is used,” he said.
In the face of one of the worst droughts on record, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive directive challenging the city to reduce its water use by 20 percent over the next two and a half years. The severity of current environmental issues, both water-related and otherwise, has not escaped the notice of the USC community. On campus, students are working to shift campus culture and university policy to become more sustainability-focused.The Environmental Student Assembly, which was formed last spring as a division of Program Board, is attempting to give a voice to individuals and groups on campus who are invested in environmental issues. Laura Walsh (left), a senior majoring in environmental studies, participates in the Environmental Student Assembly’s Green Awareness Fair on McCarthy Quad. — Daily Trojan File PhotoESA Executive Director Shawn Rhoads said that prior to ESA’s formation, there was a disconnect between like-minded environmental groups on campus.“There were these environmental organizations, but they didn’t know about each other. They didn’t really communicate with each other,” Rhoads said. “Two [organizations] were working on the same campaign at the same time, but they didn’t really know.”Since its founding, ESA has fostered communication and collaboration between its 15 member organizations that are devoted to various environmental issues and has held several events related to those issues, including film screenings and events featuring speakers such as former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and actor Ian Somerhalder. ESA also co-hosted the Homecoming Rally and Carnival earlier this month, during which students powered the stage with bicycles. The Office of Sustainability’s Sustainability Program Manager Halli Bovia noted that campus culture regarding sustainability has improved during her three years at USC.“We’re beginning to see a culture shift with the students, [including] the establishment of the Environmental Student Assembly,” Bovia said. “That’s been great.”ESA originated in the Office of Sustainability, and the two entities have maintained a close partnership. Bovia highlighted the importance of this relationship, particularly since each can provide specific resources and support to the other.“It’s so important to support students and their efforts in this area because we will never be able to do enough,” Bovia said. “ESA’s focus is really on environmental events for students. I think that’s fabulous [because the Office of Sustainability doesn’t] have the resources to put on events.”Despite ESA’s founding and the increase of environmentally focused events, however, USC still seems to lag behind many other campuses in terms of sustainability. Daniel Redick, ESA’s external membership director and co-founder of national sustainability nonprofit Green Student Fund, attended two other colleges before transferring to USC and said he noticed a marked difference when he arrived on campus.“The culture shift away from sustainability on campus when I got to USC was pretty amazing,” Redick said. “My first two colleges, Northern Arizona [University] and Santa Monica College, are very rooted in sustainable agendas and different environmental initiatives, while USC was not so much.”Both Rhoads and Redick cited lack of support from the administration as a major obstacle to achieving a more sustainable USC.“Getting USC to actually consider the environmental issues that are prevalent on campus … It definitely hasn’t been easy,” Rhoads said. “Sometimes it’s very hard to get administration on the same page.”Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry responded to this by saying that Bovia, as well as USC Environmental Health & Safety Executive Director Dr. James Gibson, are two of the university’s administrators who are involved in promoting student sustainability efforts. “Over the years, [a sustainability] task force has launched a number of initiatives through student input,” Carry said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “The administration works hard to listen to student input from multiple venues — student government, student organizations, residence life. We appreciate student input and carefully consider ideas when they are brought forth.”Rhoads specifically emphasized the necessity of greater support from the administration in terms of water conservation and recycling initiatives. He cited the need to decrease water usage in campus fountains and sprinkler systems, as well as the problematic aspects of USC’s current single-stream waste management system, in which all recyclable materials are mixed together instead of sorted by type.“USC recycles, but it’s all single-stream,” Rhoads said, referring to the fact that the university employs third-party company Athens Services to sort out recyclables from the waste. “When that happens, where’s the conscious effort of USC students actually recycling? There’s no awareness.” Rhoads also noted that in single-stream waste management systems like the one USC uses, recyclables are often soiled by trash and are then no longer able to be recycled.On-campus recycling is one initiative that is at the forefront of environmental efforts at other universities. At the University of California, Los Angeles, for example, there is an approximately one-to-one ratio of trash cans to recycling bins both on campus and in the university’s residential community. Kyle Hess, co-chair of UCLA’s largest sustainability organization, E3: Ecology, Economy, Equity, notes that his university’s emphasis on environmental research has enabled more effective sustainability on campus. Hess said UCLA has an initiative to become waste-free by 2020. “There was a recycling team that conducted a waste audit on campus to see the recycling habits of students,” Hess said. “Based on their research they designed a plan of where recycling bins should be located on campus … and they also designed a new bin and signage so that it would show people exactly what can be recycled versus what should be trashed or composted.”Hess said that E3 has recently started an E-waste initiative on campus, providing bins and encouraging students to properly dispose of their electronic waste to make UCLA’s campus even more environmentally friendly. UCLA’s sustainability initiatives have received accolades from such entities as the Sierra Club, the Princeton Review and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Though USC might not measure up to other campuses in regards to environmental issues yet, both Rhoads and Redick are optimistic about the future of sustainability on campus. Rhoads said that as the assembly continues to grow, students invested in environmental issues will have more opportunities to affect change on campus. “It’s been very rewarding to have these students in our assembly be extremely passionate about something and ESA being able to support them and serve as their resource,” Rhoads said.Redick also believes that continued efforts to communicate effectively with university administration can improve sustainability on campus.“I think showing administration … how much that sustainable culture has been growing is huge because I think the administration is going to want to reflect its students as well as possible,” Redick said.