Because of a unique partnership between a Raritan Valley Community College academic program and one of the College’s workforce offerings, a group of anthropology students has gained a better understanding of a recent fossil discovery in South Africa.
Twenty students in RVCC Professor Stephen Kaufman’s Human Origins class visited the College’s Advanced Manufacturing Lab on October 22. While Kaufman lectured about a newly discovered species, Homo naledi, the Advanced Manufacturing program coordinator brought the discovery “to life” for the students.
Working from archeologists’ computer images, Conrad Mercurius demonstrated how one of the College’s 3D printers could replicate fossils of the Homo naledi, discovered in the South African cave system called Rising Star. The newly discovered fossils may be 2-3 million years old.
Mercurius also spoke about the new technology and some of its possible future applications. He explained that one of the advantages of 3D printing is that it represents “additive” manufacturing, which offers no waste of materials. Mercurius sees an endless set of connections between the RVCC workforce program’s technological resources and traditional academics. He plans to work with faculty and students to demonstrate how the new technology can substantively enhance student learning.
During last week’s class, students also were given the opportunity to handle the replicas in order to better appreciate the significance of the new finds. The Human Origins class’ work will now proceed using the created 3D images and data files, according to Kaufman.
Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 50 years, RVCC is an educational and cultural center that is nationally recognized for its innovative programming, service to the community and environmental leadership. The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, professional development and personal enrichment courses. The College also has a performing arts center and planetarium.
RVCC is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community’s businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.
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Students in Raritan Valley Community College Professor Stephen Kaufman’s Human Origins class examine a replica of a lower jaw that was created on a 3D printer.