The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Newark College of Engineering has opened a training-focused, rapid prototyping facility that is central to both the university’s hands-on learning mission and its growing relationship with New Jersey’s manufacturing community.
The 10,000-sq-ft Makerspace operates equipment ranging from small 3D printers to large industrial machining centers, such as precision measurement and laser cutting machines.
Moshe Kam, dean of NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering (NCE), says the move from computer simulation in the teaching of engineering to hands-on practice is essential, noting, “It’s easy to teach engineering with simulators … but it will only take you so far in becoming a successful practicing engineer.”
Plans to add electronic devices, a wood shop, a paint booth, and soldering machines, among other equipment, and to double the space, are under way.
The “industry-relevant” design, prototyping, and practice skills that students will pick up in the facility constitute the “hands-on experience employers want to see,” says Robert Cohen, vice president and general manager of R&D for Stryker Orthopaedics’ reconstructive division, who is chair of the NCE Board of Visitors and an enthusiastic backer of the Makerspace.
Senator Teresa Ruiz, an assistant majority leader in the New Jersey Senate, calls it a “creative space” that is likely to entice students to math and science, helping to address what she calls “the gap we’re not filling” between unacceptable pockets of unemployment and unmet demand for workers in STEM sectors.
“This is a no-brainer to make an investment in the next generation of leaders,” adds Ruiz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee and was a supporter of the $10 million allocation from state coffers that helped NJIT’s Makerspace become a reality.
NJIT President Joel S. Bloom calls the Makerspace a “dual-use facility” that will create a “workforce of the future,” while also serving the needs of industry, “particularly manufacturing businesses.”
The facility will provide opportunities for industrial partners to participate as mentors, trainers, and instructors, for companies to collaborate with students and faculty members on research and development projects, and for employees to receive customized training tailored to their needs.
The space is “a place for hands-on learning that will encourage what we’re trying to do in the state of New Jersey — bring manufacturing back to our cities,” says State Senator Ronald Rice.
Key features of the space will include:
Product design and prototyping
Industry Standard Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Machining (CAM) Software
Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
Metalwork and welding
Electronics design, assembly, and manufacturing
Industrial metrology (measurement and verification)
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