New Longhorn Maker Studio Expands Opportunities for Hands-On Projects

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The Cockrell School of Engineering has launched a newly renovated space where students will take their ideas from invention to reality. In its first few weeks, the Longhorn Maker Studio has become a magnet for engineering students interested in making everything from drones and robots to 3-D printed objects and electronic sensors.

Located on the ground level of the Engineering Teaching Center, the Longhorn Maker Studio is outfitted with 3-D printers and scanners, laser cutters, sewing machines, machines for fabricating electronic circuit boards and many other tools. The 1,700-square-foot studio is the latest effort by the Cockrell School and Dean Sharon L. Wood to provide more opportunities for hands-on learning and student projects.

students working on robotics project

Mechanical engineering students work together to build a prototype of a robotic gait rehabilitation device for their robotics course. The team used materials and tools available in the Longhorn Maker Studio.

“We are excited to introduce this unique, creative space to all of our students,” said Cockrell School Dean Sharon L. Wood. “The Cockrell School is committed to providing a hands-on, multidisciplinary educational experience, and we believe that the Longhorn Maker Studio will have a positive impact on students across our campus.”

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The studio, which is free and open to all engineering students, has hired 10 student employees to provide training and guidance. Students are already using the space to build prototypes for class projects and create objects for extracurricular activities, all with a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach.

"Our first priority is to support classes, but we also want our students to have fun," said Desiderio Kovar, mechanical engineering professor and director of the Longhorn Maker Studio. "Imagine if you can take your design, make a prototype in the studio, and then test it — all in a few hours instead of a few weeks. Students will be able to take their ideas further, quicker, and they will learn more in the process."

students 3D printing

“It’s great; it’s one of the only places where you can walk in without having any of your own material and build whatever you like to,” mechanical engineering freshman Mackenzie Love told The Daily Texan. “I’ve primarily worked with the 3-D printers; the 3-D printers are breaking barriers to access, which I could not individually afford."

bme student with 3D printed heart

Biomedical engineering senior Wesley Hejl used the Longhorn Maker Studio to make a 3-D printed model of a heart, which he will use in his job as a biomedical technician on Seton Healthcare's Ventricular Assist Device Program team to teach patients about their hearts.