By Keri Johnson, AmeriCorps VISTA member

Nathan Vieland is an Athens, Ohio native, an instructor at the Community Makerspace, and artist whose mediums include 3D modeling, vector illustration, digital artwork, and painting (oil, watercolor, acrylics).

Vieland recently returned to Athens after graduate school at the University of California San Diego, where he also taught 3D printing and laser cutting.

Vieland was utilizing the Makerspace equipment one day last year when he asked Makerspace Manager Pauline Phillips if the facility was in need of instructors.

“I use the laser cutter, the CNC machine, and the 3D printer at the Makerspace,” Vieland said. “I teach classes on those. I also use the woodshop a lot.”

He now instructs Intro to 3D Printing on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Intro to Laser Engraving on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. The classes are free but registration is required on Eventbrite.

The intro classes cover the “basics of 3D modeling, how to use the 3D printer, how to use the laser cutter, and how to use the CNC machine.”

“The 3D printer is the most 3D modeling intensive thing, and that’s probably the most complicated thing to learn, how to do stuff in 3D,” Vieland said.

Though pre-made 3D printing models are easy to find online, it limits one’s ability to do what’s already been done, he explained – which is why it’s important to learn to 3D model.

In contrast, “The laser cutter laser engraver is very much a 2D thing. It only cuts in 2D and that is a lot of Adobe Illustrator, although that’s something where you can bring in a picture and engrave it on something,” Vieland said. “You can also cut with the laser.”

The CNC machine is “kind of a mix of both” the 3D printer and laser engraver, Vieland said.

“It has a drill bit that’s controlled by the computer, and it can move around and cut things or engrave things, and more,” Vieland said. 2D drawings and 3D models can both be used on the CNC machine, but it is a bit more complicated as it has more moving and customizable parts.

In contrast to teaching grad school courses, Vieland’s classes at the Makerspace are smaller, allowing for customized and attentive instruction. Vieland offers private tutoring in addition to the intro classes.

“It’s nice because even if I only have one person there, I can tailor the class to their experience and their goals,” Vieland said.

For anyone interested in taking one of Vieland’s classes at the Makerspace, he says “Come on down. Bring your computer, and if you have a project in mind, bring that, too. Anybody can learn. You don’t really need to have any experience.”