As a research university, we recognize the centrality of design thinking and innovation in the creation of new knowledge. But we also have a mission to encourage entrepreneurship outside of our research culture. Both of these objectives inform our emphasis on development of new ideas, devices, systems, and companies. This is the essence of our "maker culture" at Tulane. For example, our program in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship prepares students to use solutions-oriented thinking, integrate theory and practice, generate and support stimulating research across fields, and to better understand and create new models of social change.
Tulane's purpose is to create, communicate and conserve knowledge in order to enrich the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to think, to learn and to act and lead with integrity and wisdom. An essential part of the creation of knowledge is the development of systems, processes, and devices. We encourage this creativity and provide facilities to help it to grow.
Curricular change will come as academic units make increasing use of the Maker Space currently in development. "Making" is already integral to the education of students in studio art, architecture, and several of our Engineering programs. Specific classes are listed in the answer to the next question.
In addition to the myriad of maker-based courses in the School of Architecture and the School of Science and Engineering, an increasing emphasis on digital fabrication can be found in the various Studio Art departments. Courses with hands-on "making" using modern tools include:
The Tulane Student Branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has taken the lead in organizing events to bring together maker groups on the campus. They recently held an incredibly popular "Arduinos for Artists" workshop on a Saturday afternoon.
The Maker Space will be the centerpiece of Maker Row. With 4100 ft2 of space as described here, it will be the nexus for creative designers and makers from across the campus. Space renovation will take place in Summer 2015, and opening is anticipated in early 2016.
The Architecture Millhaus CNC shop (currently operational) has a numerically controlled router operating in a 48” x 96” x 12” volume. It is used to build precise wood and foam structures, under the supervision of Architecture faculty.
The wood prototype shop (currently operational), managed by Biomedical Engineering, has a full complement of hand and power woodworking tools. Access to less-dangerous tools will be available to Maker Space users, but access to circular saws and the lathe will only be allowed under direct supervision.
The machine shop (opening Summer 2015), with a Bridgeport mill, Clausing lathe, and surface grinders, adjacent to the wood shop and CNC shop. Managed by the University’s Facilities Services Department, it will be used to support ongoing infrastructure maintenance as well as for demonstration and fabrication of specialized metal components.
Tulane hosts the New Orleans Mini Maker Faire which this year displayed the work of 85 makers to an audience of nearly 1000. Our history in the tangible arts goes back to the famous Newcomb Potter of the 19th Century, and the on-campus studio of Professor Gene Koss is internationally famous for large and complex creations of metal and glass.
The Laitram Machine Shop is our partner and offers engineering consultation on improving designs to facilitate manufacturing. Facilities include multiple 5-axis CNC machines and a plasma cutter used in the manufacture of their food processing products. They can also provide precision machining services to Tulane afflilates in aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless.
Tulane is a corporate member of the Idiya community Maker Space in New Orleans. As a community maker space, they offer access to small CNC machines, 3d printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, and a wood shop. Faculty, Staff, and students are all allowed to use Idiya's facilities.
New courses in Studio Art have fully embraced the tools of the maker culture. An annual event in Biomedical Engineering provides students with funding to develop maker-based animated halloween costumes. On a serious note, Biomedical Engineering senior projects have long focused on customized assistive devices for handicapped individuals, and funds are provided to enable the making necessary to realize those designs.
Recent start-up activity by our alumni have primarily been at the intersection of health care and engineering. Among these, Tympanogen is developing and commercializing a gel patch product, called Perf-Fix, that allows nonsurgical repair of tympanic membrane perforations; AxoSim uses “nerve-on-a-chip” technology to facilitate the prediction of neurological safety and efficacy of new therapeutics; and NanoFex develops and produces next generation cellulose nanospheres using a customized spray dryer process to produce a nano-particle powder.