A group of summer students gathers at Indiana University to experience the myriad of fabrication tools that the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SICE) houses for hands on project learning. These students, organized by project manager Joshua Streiff, are all summer Research Experience Undergraduate (REU) students at IU participating in, and learning about, research at IU. The night’s tour will include laser cutters, 3D printers, water jet cutters, CNC machines, and a wide variety of other large and small industrial powered tools.
Lab manager and IT specialist, Caleb Hess, first leads the students to the lab in the basement of Informatics East. The lab not only has 3D printers and a laser cutter available to students along but also assistants who can lead users in completing specific tasks as well as helping the students learn the value of the lab for their continuing education. As Streiff notes,
Few students know the lab exists or that it is available to them. When I show them items I made on the laser they are surprised to hear the tools and expertise are there for them if they want to make things themselves.
In addition to the lab in Informatics East, there are several fabrication labs in the new Luddy Hall which host cutting edge, advanced tools used for year round class projects as well as summer camps. While many of the tools are still being installed, other tools are already in place and available for demonstrations. The most interesting was the water jet cutter.
Housed on the 4th floor, the cutter uses high pressure water and grit material to cut non-porous substances. Steel, plastic, and even marble can be cut by a CNC computer into shapes and forms. For the students, Hess supplied a sheet of marble and each student had the chance to cut out an IU trident made of marble.
Summer REU students spend their summer doing research at Indiana University. Several of those students are hosted by the center for Security & Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at the Internet of Things (IoT) research house. A year round research lab, it is charged with researching smart home devices in a residential home environment. REU students Niang Chang and Joshua Johnson are two of the students working this summer at the IoT house hacking home appliances and researching the gaps between user product understandings and actual product risks.
Other students are hosted by a variety of SICE departments from the robotics house to Pro-Health. In addition to sharing summer classes and a variety of educational opportunities, the IoT House’s weekly “Discover IU” trips, open houses, and events help bring the students together as well as show them what the school offers — both as an educational opportunity and as a community. As Streiff notes,
The REU students are doing real work, learning serious skills, and finding out about all the support IU has for them in their educational future.