Fellow undergraduate mechanical engineers, I’m sure many of you are wondering where you can build your next world-changing device/gadget.
Below I’ve listed all the lab spaces that I know are available to MIT students. Machine shops are never served to you in a silver platter, so you have to go find them around campus.
MITERs (behind building N52) (http://miters.mit.edu/) – A community of student hackers exclusive to the MIT community. Home to high voltage tesla coils, student built vehicles, robots, and gadgets. They have a collection of analog circuit components and mechanical spare parts. The tool collection is not the best, but you can certainly get almost anything done from working with metal to pretty much all of your electrical needs.
(Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/groups/miters/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/emperordane/)
Getting Access: Getting involved is as easy as visiting the space after school hours. They also hold build nights every Friday. If you have an idea that you want to be surrounded by fellow hackers and student makers, I highly recommend visiting this space.
It also doesn’t hurt to try joining their mailing list. To avoid mail spam, Simply go to webmoria and add yourself.
MIT Hobby Shop (behind building 31)- Giant CNC wood CNC router, CNC mill, CNC lathe, conventional mills, conventional lathes, sheet metal tools, $2/min waterjet machine, and the best collection of wooden tools. PLUS! The staff is absolutely amazing! They are incredibly friendly and will practically help you every step of the way so long as you have a clear vision in mind.
The only downside is that you need to pay an annual membership fee. But quite honestly, it is worth it! The tools and the staff are more than enough to compensate for the membership fee.
(Image Courtesy of http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/machine_shops_part_1)
Getting Access: You send an email and attend the safety orientation. This website will tell you everything you need to know. http://studentlife.mit.edu/hobbyshop/membership
N52 Museum Basement (behind building N52)- Home to FSAE, SEVT, EVT, and RoboCup club groups as well as a specialized wood shop. In the machine shop you can weld steel, use conventional mills, lathes and bandsaws. They also have tools to hand high voltage circuits.
(Image courtesy of: http://web.mit.edu/fsae/team/team.html)
Getting Access: The easiest way is to become a member to either one of the three clubs I’ve listed above. Join their mailing list and essentially just show up to their door during their club meetings. Additionally, taking selected classes from Course 4 can grant you access to the woodshop.
Edgerton Center (Building 44 – The Building with the giant J) - “Shop equipment consists of 3 Bridgeport millers, 2 EZ-Trak CNC mills, HAAS CNC lathe, 4 metal lathes, band saw, drill presses, belt sander and many hand tools.” - Edgerton Website
Getting Access: As soon as you can, you should email Mark Bellanger from the website. Demand for the class is quite high and you will immediately be placed into a waiting list as soon as you send him an email. Fear not, he replies as soon as an opening comes up.
Media Lab Machine shop (E14 Basement) - I’ve only passed by it a few times and I’ve heard from quite a few friends that the media lab has a small machine shop with conventional tools and a waterjet machine. They are also pretty strict about using the machine shop as well.
Getting Access: A UROP with the media lab that has some variant of manufacturing in it is the only way I know how to get access. They don’t grant it to undergraduates otherwise.
Stata Center Machine Shop - This is the shop I personally use all the time. Particularly because there’s not a lot of MechE students in CSAIL and the shop is rather empty so the tools and the work desk are always available *cough Course 2A benefit cough*. They have a new CNC mill, two lathes, a conventional mill, a laser cutter, (free) waterjet machine, and a few sheet metal tools.
Getting Access: UROP with CSAIL. Unfortunately, this is the fastest and probably the only way to get access to the shop. Without it, you don’t have the 24/7 access to the lab or to the waterjet machine.
Getting Access: Contacting Bill Buckley or taking 2.008 or 2.670 or through a UROP.
Papalardo(Building 3 basement) - This is a big lab space with multiple Lathes, CNC mills, Bandsaws, a big waterjet machine, 3D printer and all the tools you can possibly need. It’s truly a MechE paradise.
(image courtesy of: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/machine_shops_part_1)
Getting Access - Unfortunately this is only accessible if you’re taking 2.007 in the spring, 2.009 in the fall, or with DME (Discover Mechanical Engineering) during the freshmen’s pre-orientation week.
Additionally, if you TA/teach for any of the mentioned classes above an obvious perk is access to the machines.
Rapid Prototyping Lab (3-402, N52, Stata Center) – On the 4th floor of Building 3, the basement of Stata Center in the loading dock, and in N52′s wood shop, are the different lab spaces for the RPL. You have access to laser cutters, CNC routers, waterjet machines, as well as a giant wood shop.
Getting Access: If you’re course 4, you will eventually get access to RPL when you do any design related classes. The downside is that I’ve heard that it’s not permanent. They take away your access as soon as you’ve finished your class. However, as with everything, sometimes some people still can get access to certain parts of the lab
more info available: http://rpl.mit.edu/shops.php
Most dorms in MIT have their own collection of tools. It’s not really up for public access so you have to either live in the dorm or ask a friend and find out who has access to it. The tools were either student donated or funded for specific dorm events and has remained with the dorm ever since.
Questions/Comments about the page? Please comment below or contact me. I’m happy to make changes and answer any questions.
I hope this has been informative!