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Jerry Thiel is director of the University of Northern Iowa Metal Casting Center, Rapid Casting Technologies, at Cedar Valley TechWorks.

What drives you?

You know, what drives me is the opportunity to to explore new technologies and to be able to share this with people in the industry. (We have) the largest commercially available (3D printer in North America). It’s done well for us to be able to work with companies all the way from John Deere and big corporations, right down to smaller, individual companies.

What’s your biggest accomplishment in 2017?

I think it’s the scope and the size of the audience that we reached with the technology. When additive manufacturing came out there was a bubble of interest. What we saw in 2017 was really an adoption of the technologies, an integration in the companies and their business. There’s been a real growth of additive manufacturing in everything from the Department of Defense and U.S. military, to who we cater to — small- and medium-sized enterprises who create supply chains for larger companies. Iowa is full of small- to medium-sized companies that are finally now seeing additive manufacturing as a method to create parts.

What are your goals for 2018?

Part of our goals are to continue with what we’re doing. Keeping up the position we have in the industry is a challenge. 2018 will be a year of growing with new technology and new interactions and partnerships with companies that produce the technology, and probably opportunities for larger amounts of students.

What makes the Cedar Valley a great place for business?

The people. There’s no doubt about it. The people form the basis of companies. And this is a fantastic quality of life in the Cedar Valley. It’s not a big city, so we don’t have the issues of big cities — the traffic, the crowding.

What’s one piece of advice you give others?

Persistence. Perseverance. Those are the major attributes of all of the students we see pass through the center. We currently employ about 24 students and give them the opportunity to test their mettle.

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Lifestyles and Features Editor

Lifestyles Editor for The Courier

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