Hands-on labs prepare students for engineering careers

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Ty Mullen
Mechanical Engineering Faculty members Kevin Cole, left, and Nick Hawkins, right, work in the Prototyping Lab. (Ty Mullen)

The Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering has several free resources and labs available for engineering student use.

While unbeknownst to some engineering students, Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering has several free resources available, such as the ME Prototyping Lab, the Checkout Room, the Fulton Supercomputing Lab, CAEDM Labs and more.

According to ME Prototyping Lab Manager Nick Hawkins, several seniors in the program have told him they had no idea these labs existed.

“They were graduating and they had no idea the resources that were available to them,” Hawkins said. “They never took advantage of them. I think that’s the saddest part.”

The Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology’s Prototyping Lab offers resources to engineering students. (Ty Mullen)

The Prototyping Lab is located on the first floor of the Engineering Building, room 117. There are various types of machinery available for use on school projects. There’s a 3D Printer, Waterjet, Welding Machine, Media Blaster and Precision Lathe, to name a few.

Another resource is the Mechanical Engineering Checkout Room, located in the basement of the Clyde Building, room 154.

The checkout room is home to a vast array of everything from hand tools to electric motors. Some of the machines available are materials testing machines, tensile testers and computer-based data acquisition and control.

Checkout room manager Kevin Cole is available by appointment. To use these resources, engineering students can go to the College of Engineering’s website and book an appointment with Cole or one of his TAs, who will be present to aid students while using these machines.

Checkout Room Manager Kevin Cole stands in his office in the basement of the Clyde Building. (Ty Mullen)

According to Hawkins, students regularly ask him and Cole many questions about the machinery.

“We spend all day every day answering literally every question that you could come up with,” Hawkins said.

Mechanical engineering student Derek Knowles has worked as a checkout room TA since April 2016.

“Not only do we support all the mechanical engineering labs, but we also help students and faculty get the equipment and tools they need to perform research, complete class projects or work on personal projects,” Knowles said. “I enjoy the wide range of people and projects that we get to support. It’s fun to learn about the complex and innovative projects that are being performed right here at BYU.”

Engineering students have plenty of opportunities to get experience with the machinery during their time in the program.

3D Printers in the Prototyping Lab are available for student use. (Ty Mullen)

“The engineering professors try to make their classes hands on,” Cole said. “They take it from a theory to application.”

These resources are vital to students’ success in these classes, according to Hawkins and Cole. All the machines and equipment available in these labs not only allow the students to excel in their classes, but also give students an opportunity to prepare for the work field.

“Companies only hire engineers to solve problems, and if they don’t solve problems they’re not worth very much,” Hawkins said. “Helping them develop those skills is really critical to their employability. ”

Hawkins and Cole, along with all other faculty members in the College of Engineering, are available to help students become as successful as possible in preparation for their future careers. They encourage students of every major to request a tour and explore the resources available to engineering students.

“At BYU we have been blessed with a lot of resources and great things,” Cole said. “We need to take advantage of them and not take them for granted, be thankful for them and use them well and wisely.”

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