The Detkin Lab’s collaborative playground

At Penn Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, the Peter Detkin Lab blends laboratory, classroom, and makerspace.

Large amounts of data are becoming more accessible every day in almost all industries. Electrical and system engineering skills such as developing nanoscale devices, designing high-power, high-frequency electronics and building intelligent and autonomous systems that can sense, interpret and train AI models are in high demand but are not easy to teach in a traditional classroom. Penn Engineering’s Peter Detkin Lab combines the classroom, lab, and makerspace into one, providing students with an experience that not only teaches those skills, but encourages students to push limits even further.

Members of the Detkin Lab in the lab surrounded by machinery.
Image: Courtesy of Penn Engineering Today

As part of the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE), the Detkin Lab, directed by Sid Deliwala, includes the Ketterer Lab and the ESE Makerspace.

“The physical space of the Detkin Lab is designed to be highly collaborative,” says Deliwala. “Faculty teach classes and transition right into the lab experience without leaving the room. This combination of blended delivery in a classroom within a lab, what we call ‘CLABS,’ supercharges engagement and learning, a privilege most students do not get elsewhere. We shape ESE courses to be early adopters of technology that push us out of our comfort zones.

Centered on innovation, ESE’s lab program encourages students to take risks in cutting-edge research on circuits, AI-enabled medical devices, machine learning, autonomous racing cars, and quantum technologies, just to name a few.

“The Detkin Lab is the heartbeat of ESE. It is also the place where the spirit of innovation is infused in our students through numerous project-based courses, as well as senior design,” says George Pappas, UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation and chair of ESE. “Over the past 10 years, the Detkin Lab has dramatically expanded not only in the number of students it serves but also in intellectual scope, ranging from hands-on quantum courses to hands-on AI courses.”

Other entrepreneurial feats of Detkin Lab students include Architechs, the Access Engineering Club, and Penn Electric Racing. And, to keep the unique experience going, students have the opportunity to become staff members and teaching assistants.

This story is by Melissa Pappas. Read more at Penn Engineering Today.