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Saturday, August 14 • 12:00pm - 12:20pm
How does the Makerspace support the development of engineering skills?

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The role of Fab Labs in an engineering university is to allow students to access well-maintained laboratory equipments. Polyfab is a unique fabrication laboratory at Polytechnique Montreal because it is the only lab space for students that is managed by students.

Undergraduates students can use the lab to build their project assignments. The project class enables them to learn how to manage, design and optimize a product, while some of them will have the chance to learn the ins and outs of fabrication. Second-year mechanical engineering students need to build a small robot that performs predetermined actions. Some of them chose to come to use our 3D printers to print accessories or use the laser cutter/engraver to build their bodies. Staff and students help each other in a sense of community. Undergraduates also make use of the lab as part of their internship when needing to prototype. The lab is for them a perfect learning environment where they can empower themselves to concretely build their ideas, where they can make mistakes, and expand their knowledge on fabrication techniques and design iteration processes. Last summer, a group of students spent a few months developing different models of intubation boxes which eventually ended up being tested in hospitals where they were used by doctors on COVID-19 affected patients. The lab allowed them to build rapidly and with minimal constraints many iterations of boxes and provided a venue where ideas could be exchanged and designs improved.

In order to gain additional knowledge, and to improve their resume, some students will decide to join a student association to compete in an engineering competition. These associations have a workshop where they can assemble and fabricate their products. Oronos, the student association that builds high-power rockets and competes in the Spaceport America Cup, uses the laser cutter/engraver to build structural elements and the milling machine to build their motor. They also experiment the SLA 3D printer with high-temperature resin to build a nozzle that can easily be redesigned and replaced.

Graduate students also need access to reliable, precise and available machines for their research. Our laboratory, even though it is not a research laboratory, enables students to rapidly work by themselves on iterations to further develop their experiments. Indeed, outsourcing or working with technicians would be too expensive and time-consuming. Here are some examples of graduate students who are members of the Polyfab and were empowered to take control of the fabrication and design of their projects. For example, Batoul Sayeigh is a doctoral student who used our 3D printers in an iterative approach to design an instrument to measure the movement of the pelvic floor wirelessly. Facundo Sosa-Rey used the milling machine to build a pressure injection system making plastic with the proper mould.

This last research project embodies another landmark of our Fab Lab: our sustainable development consciousness. Every year the lab contributes to the sustainable development effort with a diversity of projects and activities. The lab fuelled an activity called “répare café”, where people can bring obsolete or broken equipment and objects, and volunteer students would fix them to give them a second life. Many of the volunteer students are employees of the lab who have acquired experience in handy work from working at our Fab Lab.

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Saturday August 14, 2021 12:00pm - 12:20pm EDT
Fab City Summit