Empowering engineering students to pursue innovative solutions of real world problems and foster creativity, innovation and development of entrepreneurial mindsets. Additionally, provide a space for students to call their home base for networking, collaborating, fostering practical methods to solve real world problems. Maker culture is hands on, visual, and spatial development of ideas.
The maker culture is fostered through three initiatives: 1) a 20,000 sf Maker Space, Engineering Innovation Center (EIC), fully dedicated to engineering undergraduates, 2) curricular and extra curricular programs such as AggiE_Challenge, Aggies Invent, U-Ignite, Pop Up Classes, University Innovation Fellows, 3) strategic local and national partnerships such as Startup Aggieland and Pathways to Innovation.
Our approach is to provide students from all engineering majors with opportunities to acquire “making” skills during all four years in college (freshman to senior) through formal curricula such as Capstone Design Courses, AggiE_Challenge, and several elective courses developed to utilize the Engineering Innovation Center resources.
Furthermore, freshman to seniors are invited to participate in informal curricula designed specifically to promote maker skills such as Aggies Invent and Pop Up Classes.
Key college curricular programs which support development of maker skills include: Senior Capstone Design, AggiE_Challenge (multidisciplinary and vertically integrated teams pursuing solutions for grand engineering challenges), Engineering Projects in Community Service, Innovative Product Development.
College signature informal programs include: Aggies Invent, Pop Up Classes and Inventeers. In addition, all Student Design Competition teams are given access to EIC. These include: ChemE car team, SRT-Sounding Rocket Team, Society Of Flight Test Engineers, Quad Copter Club, Turtle Robotics Team, ISEE, and the FSAE Race Team.
Student groups leading maker efforts on our campus include: FSAE Race, Concrete Canoe, Micro Mouse, MISL, Cubesat, and Human Powered Submarine teams as well as student groups Quad Copter Flight Club, Engineers Without Borders, Engineers Serving Community.
The EIC (Engineering Innovation Center) is a 20,000 sf facility which supports students in three main functional areas: 1) Design Studio – supports collaborative activities with workbenches, storage and access to tools, 2) Fabrication Center –provides access to woodworking, metalworking, machining, welding, painting, PCB manufacture, and 3D printing, and 3) Conference & Communication Center – supports audio and video conferencing for virtual collaborations with sponsors and a Green Room for video productions. Other resources include virtualized server, online tool and equipment WIKI’s, 3D scanning, and parts checkout.
By partnering with other institutions on programs such as Pathways to Innovation and sharing best practices with other institutions at national conferences such as ASEE national conference, VentureWell OPEN, and Deshpande Symposium.
Pathways to Innovation, University Innovation Fellows, Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Consortium, Aggies Invent Industry Partners, Brazos Valley Research, Seed Sumo, Montgomery County MakerSpace, TX/RX labs in Houston, Houston Community College, and Dallas Makerspace
The impact has been observed in: 1) increased utilization of EIC with over 1,800 engineering undergraduates in 2015 Spring, 2) increased student interest on Aggies Invent and Pop Up Classes, 3) increase in number of engineering students seeking access to the on campus student incubator - Startup Aggieland.
The Motley Tool, developed during the 48 hour Aggies Invent program, is a multi-functional tool which combines the functionality of six separate tools frequently needed by HazMat first responders into a single low cost tool. Its creation solves two common problems: the lack of cargo space and pockets on HazMat suits and the large expense involved with buying multiple tools for each first responder. A 3D-printed prototype was constructed and tested by first responders in full HazMat attire. This team has applied for a provisional patent, entered Startup Aggieland, and is obtaining seed funding to build their final prototype.
SMARTech, developed during the 48 hour Aggies Invent program, allows both caregiver and consumer of prescription medication the ability to detect when medication has been dispensed. The container not only notifies the consumer that it is time to take their medication, but also notifies the primary caregiver or family member via email that the dosage has been removed from the container. This team has been selected to participate in the MaroonX Summer Initiative, which provides funding for student team to pursue their business during the summer.
Device for Sleep Apnea Prevention
As a Biomedical Engineering Capstone Project, students designed a travel-ready sleep apnea treatment device which can be used as a supplementary therapy to CPAP users or as a permanent therapy for those who are intolerant to CPAP. This is a mouthguard device that works to prevent apnea events by preventing the airway from collapsing when the transmural pressure decreases. This mechanical manipulation of upper airway tissue is both effective and comfortable for the user, as shown by our prototypes. This project has been selected to be part of the Business Management Certificate program to further develop a business plan for possible pursuit.
DNA to Go
DNA to Go, developed as part of AggiE-Challenge, consists of pocket-sized battery-powered instruments designed to replicate DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at a cost of about $10 each. The simplicity and robustness of this approach will make it feasible to greatly expand availability of a host of nucleic acid-based diagnostic assays, especially in resource-limited settings lacking dedicated laboratory facilities and skilled personnel. For more information on this program, please see this link.