How is MIT MW Unique?

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MIT MakerWorkshop student mentors

MIT MakerWorkshop provides space and equipment for a community of innovators that focus on deterministic designing and problem solving. MIT MakerWorkshop is a student run space which focuses on increased access to a wider range of resources than available in many spaces on campus. Peer mentoring greatly impacts the learning in the space, as many shops have a large number of users, but a small number of experts available for teaching. MIT MakerWorkshop plans to establish ties with industry to bring engaging speakers to campus to talk to students who enjoy making, empowering them with skills and expertise from a variety of fields.

Increased Access
Some students who earn a degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT have limited hands-on experience or exposure to robust engineering design. These students are therefore not fully prepared to work in industries that depend on applied hardware innovation. This problem exists because much student project work at MIT happens outside of 9-5 machine shop hours, when there is a lack of available personnel to share hard-won experience in engineering best practices.  However, in the MIT student body much of this knowledge already exists, but it is highly dispersed, and there is no effective avenue for open collaboration amongst engineering disciplines.

MIT MakerWorkshop is open in the evenings, when students are free from curricular demands for extended periods of time, where students can learn from their peers, and which has the necessary modeling, fabrication, and testing tools to create robust products.

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MIT MakerWorkshop tool wall

Increased Resources
MIT MakerWorkshop consists of access to intellectual and physical resources that allow for prediction, creation, and validation of prototypes.

  • Prediction tools will allow students to understand how technologies will function before they are created. Prediction capabilities will consist of computers with software including SolidWorks, MATLAB, LabView, FEA, and electric circuit design software.
  • Prototyping tools will be available, and will allow rapid creation and design iteration of new devices.  We plan to develop a space where prototypes can be made from a variety of easily workable materials. Rapid prototyping, and conventional machine tools will be available in one common space, in addition to electronic components and less common processes, such as laser cutting and rubber casting.  MIT MakerWorkshop will change the way prototypes are created at MIT, allowing for complete design and fabrication in one space.
  • Design validation is a critical part of the design process and such capabilities will also be present in MIT MakerWorkshop.  Tools such as an Instron, CMM, load cells, and a variety of sensors will be available for students to calibrate and test their prototypes.

This space is be open to a wide variety of projects. It supports everything from class projects, to research, and extracurricular student team projects. Startups are a key part of MIT’s strengths, and MIT MakerWorkshop will also create infrastructure for student entrepreneurs to validate their ideas early in the process. This environment will expose students to projects that are happening beyond the classroom. We seek to have a large space where students can collaborate across disciplines, as no current design and build space truly promotes such efforts.

MIT MakerWorkshop will act as a multiplier for leveraging other machine shops on the MIT campus, allowing students to finish designs and run bench level tests before arriving in a main machine shop. For example, students can prototype flat designs with laser cut cardboard before waterjetting aluminum, or 3D print plastic components before running the CNC mill.

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MIT dome printed on our MakerBot Replicator 2X.

Increased Training
One of the most significant aspects of MIT MakerWorkshop is its unique position to spread the body of knowledge and experience of its most skilled members to those with less exposure.  Student run seminars and workshops will be cultivated in this space – there has already been expressed interest in teaching a variety of courses, from more advanced SolidWorks skills to Arduino, coding sessions and Adobe Illustrator. MIT MakerWorkshop will provide a centralized location where students can learn from each other, and share knowledge they have accumulated.

Machine shop safety and basic machining seminars will also occur in MIT MakerWorkshop according to MIT’s standard beginner machining course. This training is also available in most shops, but student demand is high and staff is limited.  As the current on-campus shops continue to train high performing engineering students to run the standard MIT shop training course, MIT MakerWorkshop can assist in preparing students to work in other shops on campus, as well as in prototyping environments at future workplaces.

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Mentors Chris and Raghav collaborate at the CNC mill.

Partnership with Industry
MIT MakerWorkshop invites companies to propose special technical seminars in their area of expertise. This will contribute greatly to our education mission and provide an opportunity to meet potential new hires who epitomize the MIT Mens et Manus (mind and hands) ethos. We are excited to have engaging seminars lead by company representatives. Past seminars on campus that were beneficial to students include a workshop on adhesives use, and a talk on design for injection molding, with samples of many parts and types of plastic.

Additionally, MIT MakerWorkshop offers opportunities for industry to engage, both as financial and in-kind sponsors.

To explore opportunities please contact the MIT MakerWorkshop executive committee at mw-exec  (at)  mit  (dot)  edu