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College of Engineering: MakeICT

Executive Summary

The College of Engineering's Education division is proposing that we rent space at the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation, then remodel this space to create a broad-based rapid-prototyping lab and design studio called MakeICT. MakeICT will consist of equipment and materials to support modern practice techniques pertaining to design and construction of entry-level engineering projects within any of the engineering disciplines taught at WSU. Besides remodeling and equipment needs, MakeICT will require staffing as well as a set of policies and procedures.

In Fall 2010, MakeICT will open, ready to serve the significant project-based component of WSUe101, WSU College of Engineering's Introduction to Engineering course. In addition, it will support students from the College of Engineering and the university at large with engineering projects as needed. By Spring 2011, MakeICT will expand to support both local professional engineers and hobbists. These people can join MakeICT as members, allowing them access to the space and allowing our students the opportunity to work alongside professionals.

Costs are summarized in the table below. More details with specifics on expenses can be found later in this proposal:


Min Cost

Cost For More Satisfactory Results

Computer Equipment



Power Tools



Hand Tools









Electronics Building






Traditional Instruction Aids









MakeICT will be a place where WSU Engineering students, non-Engineering students, and local professionals can design then build anything from basic electronics to mechanical and aerodynamic contraptions. Members will have access to the latest entry-level rapid prototyping tools, such asSmall hand and power tools, desktop-based CNC equipment, a laser cutter, and a milling machine to generate circuit boards.

Furniture in MakeICT will support the academic model while concurrently fostering a community environment. Fold-up chairs and a portable smart board will allow teachers to easily set up an ad-hoc classroom environment. Work tables supporting multiple configurations for different layouts will allow members to work more efficiently within the lab's space constraints. Comfortable furniture and other amenities will foster collaboration as members take breaks from their work, chat with each other, or just relax for a minute with a cup of coffee or tea.

A carefully sculpted set of policies and procedures will ensure that the various factions using the space will have the materials and knowledge they need to work effectively and safely. Faculty and administration will work together to design a protocol that ensures that all members will receive adequate training before they are allowed to use power tools.

Our Engineering Educator can oversee the design, function, policies and procedures of MakeICT as part of his job responsibilities. He would be assisted by a paid student, perhaps a Graduate Teaching Assistant, who will assist with staffing during lab hours, training, ordering of materials, and general care and maintainence.

MakeICT will significantly improve our offering of experienced-based engineering for all of our students in the College of Engineering. In addition, the studio will greatly enhance our ability to recruit and retain engineering students. Our students will have a space in which they will naturally connect and collaborate with the professional community. ABET criteria will also be satisfied as we provide students experience with modern engineering tools.

Proposed changes


MakeICT, like any design studio requires large open space which can easily be repurposed as the projects in the space change. Currently the space at the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation is sectioned off for smaller meetings. Fortunately, the interior walls separating the rooms are not load bearing so they easily be knocked down. An arrangement such as is show below would provide us the open and flexible space we need.


In addition, the space currently has tiled carpet. Carpet easily generates static electricity, not ideal for sensitive electronic components. Since the tile has been laid on concrete, we recommend that the carpet be removed and the concrete treated with a non-porous protectant from spills and stains. A concrete floor will offer the functionality needed in the space while the protectant will offer color and shine to give the space a finished and aesthetically appealing look.

MakeICT will also need its own separate entrance. There is an already-existing sliding glass door that will help make this affordable. In addition, we may wish to consider painting the walls.


Creating a shared student and professional design studio will require purchases in each of the following categories:

  1. Equipment for use in projects: To facilitate experimentation, MakeICT should provide students with a basic library of equipment which they may incorporate into their projects. Examples include USB webcams, embedded webcams, laptop and high-end computers, and servers for web-based work.

  2. Small low-end power tools: WSU College of Engineering already offers its students limited supervised access to large, high-end CNC and power tools. However, we do not offer easy access to smaller simpler tools as are commonly used in smaller-scale projects. We can address this by purchasing such tools as a desktop scroll saw, mini drill press, reciprocating saw, and mini lathe.

  3. Hand Tools: For basic daily work, hammers, hobby saws and screwdrivers are essential.

  4. Presentation/documentation: As we create more opportunities for members to document and present their work, we need to support this increased activity. Presentation/documentation equipment such as video projectors, printers, scanners and a video camera can help.

  5. Furniture and organizational equipment: Members need furniture conducive to their collaborative process and which supports them in finding and using raw materials. In addition, furniture can help create a community environment so members, both professionals and students, work together, learn from each other, and feed off each others' energy. Organizational bins offer a way to keep smaller materials such as capacitors, resistors, screws and washers sorted. A fridge, love seat and coffee maker offer members a way to feel comfortable as well as productive, thus encouraging them to spent more time in the space.

  6. Electronics building: Just about all engineering projects involve electronics, so members need an assortment of standard tools for building electronics circuits. These include soldering irons, chip programmers, solder-less breadboards, and a fast, efficient and cost effective way to build circuit boards, such as a Roland Modela milling machine.

  7. Electronics testing and troubleshooting: As a contemporary engineering studio, MakeICT needs a standard assortment of modern test equipment, such as digital and USB oscilloscopes, voltmeters, function generators and logic analyzers. Industry will expect our students to be familiar with modern versions of these basic tools. Furthermore, access to these tools helps the students develop troubleshooting processes and encourages them to iterate on their work.

  8. Traditional instructional tools: With a portable whiteboard and folding chairs, teachers, students and professionals can quickly transform a large area in the space to a more traditional classroom. They can then lead or participate in both formal and informal classes, academically based or organized by volunteers for the community.

Laser Cutter

We have listed a Laser Cutter as its own subcategory because of both its uniqueness and its expense. In short, a laser cutter is a 2.5 dimensional CNC cutter unmatched in speed, accuracy and ease of use. Laser cutters can cut a variety of materials, including acrylic, wood, foam, Fiberglas and Plexiglas. Precision is so high that interlocking 2-dimensional pieces can be made which fit so snugly together that no glue is necessary to create a robust 3-dimensional piece. Using a laser cutter is easy: design what you want using any software and send the design to the laser cutter print driver.

Laser cutters are becoming more and more common as standard equipment in electronics and rapid-prototyping labs. Within our University, we have located a laser cutter in the Aerospace Engineering department. Dr. Miller tells us that it is used round-the-clock and now his department is in need of a second unit.


Example part cut from a laser cutter

Besides precision and ease-of-use, laser cutters offer many advantages over mechanical cutters; they are quieter, create less waste, draw less power, and are safer for the operator. A typical smaller laser cutter sits on a stand. Exhaust from the cutter must be ventilated outside.


Typical laser cutter setup

Impact of Changes

With purchases outlined above, MakeICT can become a highly-visible centerpiece for the College of Engineering, WSU, and the Wichita community in general. Students and professionals will come to MakeICT to design, build prototypes, and implement their final versions of their projects in a community environment. They will use the high-level computers provided at the studio to support their CAD/CAM work, then design their prototypes using raw materials we provide in organized bins. Oscilloscopes and other basic test equipment will help them troubleshoot. After taking a basic safety course and passing a safety test, they will also be allowed to use the power tools.

Perspective and current students as well as the general Wichita community can witness the continual activity. Our students will have an exciting space where they can find a community to support them as they design and build engineering projects.

Our laser cutter will give students and the community the ability to create precise objects as part of their design projects, relatively easily and quickly. They can do this using inexpensive materials and with a unique and very exciting machine.

In addition, students and the general community will find in the lab an inspiring yet comfortable environment in which to collaborate, explore and build together. The already-existing sense of community in our students will be further supported.


In addition to the purchase of equipment, the college is aware of and committed to adequately addressing the added resources necessary to successfully create the studio. These include:

  1. staff time to work with Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation and the college to come up with an appropriate remodeling plan
  2. staff time to sort and organize new equipment
  3. staff time and materials cost to purchase, sort and organize non-reusable items (resistors, capacitors, bolts, screws, etc.)

We also recognize the safety issues related to power and hand tools and plan to carefully design and implement a safety course with corresponding test to ensure that students use the equipment in a manner that respects the equipment and is safe for them.

MakeICT (last edited 2011-07-16 02:55:55 by JohnHarrison)