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Ivy Tech Jay Leno car

Ivy Tech instructor Richard Mroz, from left, and students Erica Harms and Ryan Hough inspect the community college's new Stratus System 3-D printer in their Flex Lab at the Valparaiso campus. The printer recently aided them in constructing a part for one of Jay Leno's antique Duesenberg cars.

VALPARAISO — Jay Leno and Ivy Tech Community College have bonded over a 1929 Duesenberg that the comedian and car aficionado is having restored.

The recent addition of a state-of-the-art 3-D printer in the college’s Flex Lab inspired instructor and design technology program Chairman Jason Gordon to research projects for students. That research led to Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage in Burbank, California.

“They reached out to us,” said Jim Hall, fabrication engineer, who has been with Jay Leno’s garage for 13 years. “It’s an exciting collaboration.”

Restoring the Duesenberg requires parts that are no longer available to be manufactured or re-created, Hall said. One of those parts was the door handle for the car.

However, he said, “you can’t just take an old part and make a cast of it. Metal shrinks.”

In addition, “Jay didn’t want to part with the door,” Hall said.

Ivy Tech’s 3-D printer and students in the design technology program provided the answer and a connection with the famed comedian.

“Jay Leno gave us a call back,” said Ryan Hough, a second-year student at Ivy Tech Valparaiso. “Jason loves to share the voicemail clip from Jay Leno.”

A laser scan of the door handle gave Gordon and students a model to create the part.

“We printed it about three weeks ago and mailed it to them,” Hough said in November.

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The 3-D model provided the proper dimensions to produce a bronze casting, Hall said. “It’s exciting. They grow the part and make it. Technology allows this, and the younger generation learns how to use this technology.”

Hall said the project also coincides with Leno’s passion for two subjects — education and cars. “We may collaborate again with Ivy Tech,” Hall said.

Gordon said that possibility of future collaboration with Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage creates a buzz in the design technology program. In the meantime, students continue to work with the 3-D printer creating a variety of items now on display at the Valparaiso campus, 3100 Ivy Tech Drive.

One area Gordon said he’d like to explore is creating prosthetic devices for animals, including beaks for birds that have lost that essential body part.

Ivy Tech’s Design Technology program prepares students for challenging professions in the design disciplines, he said.

Students can focus on architectural design, mechanical design and computer graphics. These students also have access to the most current hardware and software used in these disciplines.

Lab facilities come equipped with high capacity workstations, 3-D printers, 3-D scanners and the latest in design and modeling software including AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks, Revit, Vertex BD and Adobe Suite.

Ivy Tech’s design technology curriculum provides the opportunity for graduates to become productive immediately on graduation, he said. Those employment opportunities include architecture and engineering, consumer products, medical products, durable goods, government and education.

Graduates have the skills and knowledge required to respond to future employment challenges or continue their education at other colleges or universities, according to information provided by Ivy Tech Community College.

Hough, for example, said he plans to pursue a career in industrial design creating items including furniture that “consumers want and need.”

Helping to create the 3-D model of the door handle for Jay Leno’s 1929 Duesenberg showed him how this kind of technology provides “everything from conceiving it to designing it,” Hough said.

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