With the pandemic disrupting in-person learning and lab time in 2020, Joshua Chen, a junior in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), got together with a group of classmates and dreamed up a student-run space where they could apply their newfound knowledge to creative projects. Working with MSE Lab Manager Steve Szewczyk after returning to campus, the group turned their proposed MatSci Makerspace into a reality.
During open hours, undergraduates can participate in workshops and get hands-on experience with the tools and techniques that are used to get the most out of modern materials.
“The MSE department emphasizes training of our students with real-world skills and perspectives through creation, innovation and discovery,” says Shu Yang, Joseph Bordogna Professor and Chair of MSE. “The design, fabrication and testing done in the MatSci Makerspace will help deepen students’ knowledge on the synthesis, processing, structure, properties and application of materials. It will also foster teamwork and communication, which is essential in an ever-more complex ecosystem.”
“Our vision was simple: We wanted to create a space where students like us could pursue passion projects, take ownership and freely explore materials-centric ideas that could be separate from classwork or research,” says Chen.
“I had grown up building things (robotics, home projects, etc.) and as a Materials Science and Engineering major, I had been constantly told that those stories of people tinkering in their garages and building personal passion projects at home just wouldn’t be possible for materials,” Chen says. “You can’t exactly build a scanning electron microscope, synthesize new materials, fabricate a chip or develop a new hydrogel that electroplates metals without expensive equipment.”
“Realizing that I didn’t have to start so big made me particularly excited about creating just for the sake of trying to do something cool and unseen.”
This story is by Joshua Chen. Read more at Penn Engineering Today.