An Education in the Making

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An Education in the Making

January 9, 2018

Photo: At NYIT’s Innovation Labs, students are welcome to experiment with 3-D printers and other maker technology. Pictured is an optical encoder disk designed by student Kurt Bell (B.S. ’17) for an engineering project.

At NYIT’s Innovation Labs (iLabs) in Old Westbury and Manhattan, students from all disciplines can explore technologies and services that foster experimentation and collaboration.

“We provide a continuously refreshed collection of emerging technology items, along with the support and instruction needed for students at any skill level to get started or build on their existing base of knowledge,” says Librarian II David Cirella (M.S. ’17), who supervises the Manhattan iLab.

Areas of focus include 3-D printing, scanning, and design; virtual and augmented reality; electronics and programming; and multimedia production. 

“Within each of these areas we provide in-person support, instructional materials, and a collection of ‘lending tech’ that students can borrow for two weeks,” adds Cirella.

Since opening last fall, students from several NYIT schools and colleges have used the iLabs for course-related projects. Electrical and computer engineering student Kurt Bell (B.S. ’17) recently used the lab’s Makerbot z18 to make a specific part needed for a research project.

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The Makerbot z18 3-D printers located at the Manhattan and Old Westbury Innovation Labs allow students to create virtually anything. NYIT staff are on hand to provide any needed assistance.

“I used the 3-D printer to prototype an optical encoder disk in order to collect odometry data on a rollator used in medical research,” he says. “This gave me the opportunity to build a component from scratch for a specific application, and to try different designs at very low cost.”

To design the optical encoder disk (a device that helps measure the position or motion of a shaft or axle and converts it to an analog or digital signal), Bell taught himself Fusion 360 and OpenSCAD design software to create a file to be uploaded to the 3-D printers.

“Having a practical application for the software motivated me to learn the programs thoroughly and now I have those in my tool belt, so to speak,” he adds. “The technology available in the iLabs is a great resource for students to get hands on experience.”

Cirella agrees and urges all NYIT students to visit the iLabs inside the Wisser Library at Old Westbury or on the third floor of 1855 Broadway.

“The instruction and technology available through NYIT’s iLabs provide a setting ripe for the type of experimental learning and play that so often leads to collaboration, new and novel ideas, and avenues of lifelong learning,” he says.

The iLabs, located on the first floor of the Wisser Memorial Library (NYIT-Old Westbury) and the third floor of the NYIT-Manhattan Library, are open during regular library hours. Look out for more stories on The Box highlighting various technologies available at the iLabs.