living with the lab
boosting hands-on learning in engineering education

Freshman Projects Laboratory – Bogard Hall Room 129

All freshman engineering students complete ENGR 120, 121 and 122 in the classroom / laboratory / shop facility shown in Figure 1. The laboratory is designed to support 40 students (working in teams of 2 to 4) and is equipped with 11 tables for project work, note taking, and group interaction.

Figure 1 Panoramic View of the Freshman Projects Laboratory

The walls of the laboratory are lined with 86 linear feet of cabinets with stainless steel counter tops. These cabinets provide the work surface required for project fabrication and the storage space needed for supplies and equipment. Ten identical work stations are distributed around the room to allow all 40 students in the class to work simultaneously. A work station is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 One of Ten Workstations in the Freshman Projects Laboratory

A work station includes:

  * Wabeco F1200E benchtop milling machine
  * Magnum milling vises
  * FAGOR 3-axis digital read out
  * Mini shop vacuum
  * Battery powered hand drill
  * Bench vise
  * Tooling (drill bits, tap, parallels, clamps, speed square)

A Wabeco D600E lathe with a FAGOR 2-axis digital readout, Swiss-style quick change tool set, and a turret tailstock is available for fabricating conductivity sensors in ENGR 121. The laboratory also houses a Dayton 18” variable speed band saw and a Wilton vertical belt sander/chamfering tool for general project work in ENGR 122.

A resistance temperature detector (RTD) is fabricated in ENGR 121 using photolithography, requiring the following equipment:

  * Clean-Ceil fan filter module
  * Laurell Technologies spin processor with a vacuum chuck and an automatic dispenser (for spinning photoresist onto a nickel coated substrate)
  * Intelli-Ray 400 shuttered UV floodlight for exposing masked photoresist/ substrate
  * Digital hot plates for baking/heating
  * 11 small portable microscopes with 60X magnification to measure RTD resistor dimensions (to compare design dimensions to final dimensions)

Figure 3 shows some of the equipment and an RTD fabricated in the laboratory.

Figure 3 (left to right) Spin Processor, UV Floodlight and an RTD (before sealing).

Students taking ENGR 122, which focuses on innovative product design, can “borrow” a host of sensors and other parts needed to facilitate their projects, including servos, RF transmitters/receivers, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, GPS receivers, digital compasses, 2- and 3-axis accelerometers, ultrasonic sensors, force sensors, touch sensors, and cameras (about $10K worth of various sensors). These sensors can readily be interfaced with the student-owned Boe-Bot kits that serve as the backbone of the freshman laboratory experience.

Pump Testing Stations: Our laboratory is equipped with five portable stations that allow students to determine the efficiency of their pumps in ENGR 120. The design of these stations is provided here.

pump testing station


College of Engineering and Science
Louisiana Tech University
Ruston, Louisiana

Project supported by the National Science Foundation's Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program under Award No. 0618288.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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