STEM lab, TAP room for engineering students
A new space in Tapoyta Hall has been fascinating students and faculty who have been peering in, trying to figure out the odd equipment inside. The room, classroom 18, now is called the Innovation Hub.
What is an Innovation Hub? It’s a place where STEM students can dream with their hands. “STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. So really this Innovation Hub is to encourage STEM students to enter the field of engineering,” Wayne Fischer, UCC’s only engineering associate professor, says.
The Innovation Hub has both additive and subtractive tools in their collection of machines. Additive tools add material like 3D printers, and subtractive tools take away material like the CNC machine, which stands for Computer Numerical Control. “We have rapid prototype machines, which are 3D printers. We have 13 in total on campus,” Fischer says. All the 3D printers are from MakerBot. With more funding, Fischer hopes to expand to more versions like one that uses metal instead of plastics. The Desktop CNC machines, made by NOMAD3 cut wood, plastics and metal.
The Innovation Hub also has a mold maker. Students can create an object with either the 3D printer or the CNC machines and create a mold with the mold maker. This machinery is often for mass-producing objects.
The Innovation Hub is also the meeting place for the Engineering Club which meets every Friday at 12:15 when the members brainstorm the next big project they would like to work on.
The Engineering Club re-started just this last year. Before COVID there was an active Engineering Club, but during the pandemic they lost track of their members. Fischer and club president Joshua Corrington worked hard to start the club again, and now, because of their hard work, the place is exploding with creativity. At the window of the Innovation Hub, people can see the prototypes that the STEM students and club members have been working on, both the successful ones and failed attempts.
“(The club meetings are) supposed to go for an hour, but (students) get so excited about talking about things it ends up going longer than that,” Fischer says.
Corrington says, “Each week we try to do a presentation on the equipment (in the Innovation Hub).”
Fischer also has expressed a desire to start a Society of Women Engineers. He says that many other colleges and universities are a part of this national association, and the Innovation Hub would be the meeting spot if the club were to start up. He hopes, if this club were started, it would encourage more women to join the engineering field.
Do students have to be STEM majors to join the club? Fischer and Corrington both say no. “We are always looking for more members. You don’t have to be an engineering student (to join),” Corrington says.The students just must be excited to learn and ready to be a part of a team. According to Fischer, students also don’t have to be full-time to join, unlike many other clubs on campus.
Currently, the Engineering Club is partnering up with ASUCC for their holiday charity event. Because of many hardships in the community that have been happening these past years, many students are homeless or living in their cars. ASUCC is handing out stockings to those who sign up so that these students and their families can have something special for the holidays. The Engineering Club is making stocking stuffers for this event. One of the ideas the club is working on is making an ornament that looks like a tree and can be assembled and unassembled with ease.
The Innovation Hub is also a place to inspire high schoolers on the path of engineering. “The idea is to introduce junior high schoolers and high school students to STEM fields and engineering,” Fischer says. “Yesterday, we had a high school group drop by and visit and learn what we’re doing here.” He hopes to have more tours and workshops that high schoolers and college students can both participate in.
Corrington wants to start inviting guest engineer speakers to talk to the club about what their jobs are really like. He would like to bring engineers of all types in, not just civil or mechanical engineers, to show more types of engineering that the students may be interested in and show students that there are more options.
If you are interested in Innovation Hub or seeking to join the engineering club, reach out to Wayne Fischer here.
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