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Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Laboratory

Purdue's i2i Learning Laboratory in the School of Engineering Education is an experiential, collaborative, reconfigurable learning environment that prepares First-Year Engineering students for the rigors of their professional programs and, ultimately, for the workforce, where they'll be equipped to make positive contributions.

The i2i Learning Laboratory supports interactive technologies and team-based activities that enable first-year engineers to build their knowledge through required gateway courses and explore authentic problems relevant to society. Innovative teaching and learning technologies are at the heart of this enterprise to ensure that students from all walks of life have every opportunity to succeed.

Seven spaces clustered at one end of Neil Armstrong Hall (along with a companion classroom) take students through each stage of the design cycle. Like professional engineers, students identify design criteria for a particular problem, come up with potential alternatives, plan for a chosen solution, build and test a prototype, evaluate their work, and refine their solution.

Design Studio

Design Studio

This media-intensive facility, where students learn the engineering design process, features built-in flexibility. Floor-to-ceiling “wall-talkers,” essentially whiteboard wallpaper, cover three walls (the fourth wall is glass), allowing students easy proximity and ample room for writing and sketching as they create solutions to problems. Mobile carts deliver tablet PCs, data acquisition equipment, and other tools to each team’s workspace in a just-in-time fashion. Six video projectors positioned around the room allow easy viewing of course material—and can each show different content so that student teams can make mini-presentations to segments of the class simultaneously.

As needed, a drop-down partition can divide the 120-student space into two 60-student spaces. Rails at the tops of the walls allow for hanging 2’ by 3’ whiteboards at any point around the room. (These portable whiteboards can be moved to other sections of the i2i Learning Laboratory for continued learning after the formal class period is over.) In addition, each team has its own project storage space so that complex design experiences spanning more than one class period can be developed.

Innovation Studio

Innovation Studio

Electronics Studio

Making the invisible visible is the theme of this eclectic studio, where students are inspired to think “outside the box” and explore new concepts. Floor-to-ceiling whiteboard walls and furniture serve as writing/drawing space on which students can craft visual images of their ideas, freed from the boundaries of a piece of paper. Wall-mounted cameras enable students to capture their ideas digitally and send them over the internet to another location. Using a Microsoft Surface tabletop touch-screen computer, students can brainstorm together and work interactively with information by combining, editing, and resizing multiple sources of data. It also houses a large-format plotter for creating CAD drawings and presentation-size posters.

Prototyping Studio

Here students transform their ideas into working prototypes, using 3D printers no larger than a standard copier. Starting with a simple computer-aided design (CAD) drawing, students can go from concept to a physical model—something they can actually touch—in a matter of hours.

Artisan and Fabrication Laboratories (AFL)

In these fully equipped manufacturing facilities, students gain hands-on experience building the designs they create. In the Artisan Laboratory, students work with wood, plastics, and similar materials, using a CNC router, a variety of wood saws, a drill press, and large layout tables. The Fabrication Laboratory houses machining equipment, such as CNC (computer numerical control) lathes and mills and a waterjet cutting system, along with more traditional shop equipment such as welding setups, horizontal and vertical band saws, a drill press, and layout tables where students can begin assembling parts. For more information, visit the AFL Homepage.

Demonstration Studio

In this large, open space, teams of students can gather simultaneously to assemble and demonstrate their projects, using mobile data acquisitioDemonstration Studion equipment and other tools. The glass wall along one side of the room showcases the achievements of Purdue Engineering students to parents, alumni, and visitors.

The Demonstration Studio also houses six CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) stations, where students can design parts to be built in the Fabrication and Artisan Laboratories and generate the programs that run the CNC machines in those labs. At the CAD/CAM stations, students also learn the CNC machine interface and can test their designs by generating simulations of the parts they’ll be creating in the CNC machine. In addition, students can use PC-based data acquisition to gain hands-on experience measuring electrical and physical phenomena such as voltage, current, temperature, pressure, or sound. Electronics-based projects include circuit design, control design and simulation, signal and image processing, fabricating measuring probes, and designing the electrical interface between a measuring probe and a data acquisition system. This studio is equipped with National Instruments’ Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation (ELVIS) educational design and prototyping platform and LabView.