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It’s never too late to be what you want to be. For many, it takes thought, time, and a little innovation to realise your dream.

This is especially true for South East Technological University (SETU) BSc in Additive Manufacturing graduate, Keith Tracey, who says SETU was pivotal in “opening his eyes to what was possible in the 3D printing world.”

Having discovered 3D printing 22 years after leaving secondary school, Keith now fronts additive manufacturing start-up XYZ3D.

Hailing from Dublin and now living in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Keith says he always had “an itch to go into some form of engineering”. That ambition was put on ice when he failed to get sufficient Leaving Certificate points for his top choice, so the resourceful teen chose a more hands-on route where he “developed a vast array of skills, even if none of which were certified.”

Achieving a university certification 

Following several years as a customer service specialist and drone surveyor, Keith came to the realisation that if he were to apply for a university programme, it would need to be in a field that he “had a newfound and genuine interest in.”

Now in his 40s, Keith knew he had the ambition to “achieve some form of certification”, but was concerned that his dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD diagnoses could pose problems once he began the programme syllabus. Those fears were unfounded.

“It was immensely scary. I remember telling my programme leader about my learning difficulties on the first day of the semester. He immediately offered all the assistance I could have wished for. Those aides helped me flourish in the programme. At no point did I ever feel left behind, and that was my biggest relief,” Keith says.

SETU’s BSc in Additive Manufacturing is designed to allow students to upskill across a range of advanced 3D and additive manufacturing applications in industries such as med-tech, bio-pharma and precision engineering. The degree is developed by the SETU Waterford-led AMASE | Additive Manufacturing Advancing the South-East and funded under the Irish Government’s Human Capital Initiative in partnership with SETU Carlow and other industry partners.

Immense experience 

Despite being among the first cohort of students to study additive manufacturing at SETU, Keith says the “lecturing team’s immense experience” enabled him to balance study with family and work life.

Scroll in hand, Keith says he can finally appreciate the “countless hours, sacrifices, blood, sweat and even tears that were poured into it.” Worth it? “Yes absolutely – without question.”

A growth industry 

With his fledgling company XYZ3D now taking off, Keith is certain that 3D printing is here to stay. Keen to realise its full potential, Keith foresees additive manufacturing at the core of businesses up and down the country, “This is an amazing tool that will be commonplace within so many industries,” he adds.

Keith hopes to expand his company, with aspirations to hire a fellow SETU additive manufacturing graduate.