News Release

An NSF bootcamp for future scientists

Pitt's Xiayun Zhao and students successfully conclude NSF-funded boot camp At Carnegie Science Center

Meeting Announcement

University of Pittsburgh

AIM3DP Boot Camp


Dr. Zhao (far right) and her students at the Carnegie Science Center AIM3DP Boot Camp.

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Credit: Xiayun Zhao

Research today doesn't only occur in a lab; indeed, many university researchers extend their work into the community with the goal of inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. And some government agencies, like the National Science Foundation, provide the funding to do so. Most recently, Xiayun Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science at the University of Pittsburgh, completed such outreach at the Carnegie Science Center (CSC).

Zhao and her students hosted the AIM3DP Boot Camp the Carnegie Science Center BNY Mellon Mobile Fab Lab from March 16–17 as part of Zhao's NSF CAREER award for young investigators (Award #: 2238557). 

Over the course of two engaging days, Carnegie Science Center’s “Mentors in the Making” students had the opportunity to delve into the world of advanced manufacturing, machine learning, and measurement science under the guidance of Zhao and her dedicated ZIP-AM team (ZXY Intelligent Precision Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory) members: Heyang Zhang, Haolin Zhang, Yousra Bensouda, Yue Zhang, Yiquan Wang, and MD Jahangir Alam at the Swanson School of Engineering. Through a series of interactive sessions and hands-on experiments, the high school students gained invaluable insights into the fundamental principles and applications of these cutting-edge technologies.

“Thanks to the generous support from both the NSF CAREER Program and the CSC, our ZIP-AM research lab has been able to dedicate resources to developing and delivering seminars, demonstrations, and hands-on workshops for the Mentors-in-the-Making," Zhao explained. "Since the onset of our CAREER project, in collaboration with six PhD students, ten undergraduate students from the school’s senior design projects, and four MS students who participated in our ME 2088 class, we have worked tirelessly to create materials and prepare for the 2-day camps.

“Leveraging these combined resources and talents, our team is committed to introducing advanced manufacturing technologies and igniting children's interest in STEM through the AIM3DP (AI & Metrology aided 3D Printing) Camp at the CSC Fab Lab. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and grateful for all the support that has made this initiative possible.”

Supported in part by Zhao’s CAREER award, the event exemplified the collaborative efforts between academia and industry to foster STEM education and workforce development.

“The AIM3DP Boot Camp exemplifies our commitment to inspiring the next generation of engineers and innovators,” said Sanjeev Shroff, Interim U.S. Steel Dean at the Swanson School of Engineering. “Our faculty are proud to partner with organizations like Carnegie Science Center to make STEM education accessible and engaging for students of diverse backgrounds.”

“Through collaborative initiatives like the AIM3DP Boot Camp, we envision a future where our students are equipped with not just knowledge, but also the practical skills and passion needed to drive innovation in advanced manufacturing and beyond. This partnership between academia and industry paves the way for transformative collaborations that will shape the future of STEM education and workforce development,” said Jon Doctorick, Director of STEM Outreach Programs at Carnegie Science Center.

High school students who attended the boot camp are encouraged to explore additional opportunities for further learning and research with Professor Xiayun Zhao, reinforcing their interest and proficiency in advanced manufacturing and general STEM fields including materials, measurement and testing, process control, and data analytics/mining.

"We are thrilled with the positive response and enthusiastic participation we witnessed during the AIM3DP Boot Camp,” Zhao said. “It was inspiring to see young minds actively engaging with the material and expressing interest in pursuing further studies and careers in advanced manufacturing.”


Carnegie Science Center, soon to be the Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Science Center, is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 500,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes, and off-site education programs.

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