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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Machine Shops, Part 2 by Laura N. '09

Really, there are a lot of machine shops.

Machine Shops, Part 2

In case you haven’t read it: Machine Shops, Part 1

There are a lot of machine shops on campus, so in my massive efforts to document all of them, I split the entry into 2 parts. Unfortunately, I still don’t have all of the photos I would like, but honestly, if you’ve seen one milling machine you’ve seen them all, so I trust that you can use your imagination, and I’ll just describe some of the other shops I haven’t shown you photos of.

Up first: the Lab for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP). This is another lab run by Course 2 (the mechanical engineering deparment). Course 2 students see a lot of this place during the IAP of their sophomore year, when they take 2.670 (hey, funny story about 2.670- I took it a year ago, took a million pictures, then never blogged about it. If none of the other bloggers is taking it this IAP, maybe I’ll finally do that) and whenever they take 2.008. 2.670 is a class for learning all about drafting and machine tools, and 2.008 is a manufacturing class where you’re required to make a large batch of yo-yos using cool processes like injection molding. LMP is a lot like Papallardo, with its long rows of lathes and milling machines and other useful machinery:

but it also has some other cool stuff, like a waterjet:

and an injection molding machine:

and some super heavy duty CNC machines:

plus a computer lab with solid modeling and CAM programs to write the code for the CNC machines:

For those of you not familiar with these terms, CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control, and it was basically the precursor to modern robotics. CNC mills or lathes are machines which are set up to allow a computer program to operate it. CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacturing. The way the whole process works is to design a part on a solid modeling program, import that file to a CAM program which will write the CNC code for you, upload that code to a CNC machine, then sit back and watch as your part is made for you without any human intervention. It’s pretty awesome stuff.

On to the last set of photos that I have: the Course 16 (Aeronautics and Astronautics) lab space. I have to warn you, what you are about to see is some of the coolest stuff ever. Seriously, Course 16 has the most awesome lab/lounge space I’ve ever seen. Everytime I walk by I’m wonder why I choose Course 2.

The entrance is appropriately decorated,

and the areo/astro library is located right next to the lounge and lab.

Yes, that’s a hammock in the background. Plus, there’s some open lab space and a shop:

Then there’s the Edgerton Center shop. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it, but it’s pretty standard- some CNC mills and lathes, bandsaws, jigsaws, and some hand tools. (By the way, most CNC machines, except for the “super heavy duty” ones I showed above at LMP, are able to be operated manually.) The cool thing about the Edgerton Center is that while Papallardo and LMP are run by Mechanical Engineering and only open to students in that major (likewise with the Course 16 space), the Edgerton Center is open to all MIT students, provided that they complete a machine tools and safety course given by the Edgerton Center staff. If you want to use the Edgerton Center, you can sign up for the class- but do it early, because there’s a pretty long wait. It took me almost a full semester to get into the class, which is offered every 2 weeks. The class is actually pretty cool- you learn how to use the lathes and milling machines, and even make a cool little flashlight in the process. Once you’ve completed the course, you’re free to use the shop whenever you want, whether it’s for a class project, a student group you’re working with, or your own fun idea.

And that’s not even the end of it- there are even more shop spaces around campus which are for more private use. Several dorms have their own shops- East Campus and Random Hall, for example. My dorm, Burton Conner, is currently expanding on a modest tool collection and working on getting a space to put an actual shop as well. Lots of student groups also have their own shop spaces- theater groups have access to woodworking tools for the purpose of building sets, and there are lots of engineering-based student groups that also have their own shops. For example, FSAE (Formula Society of Automotive Engineers- they design and build a racecar for competition every year) and the Solar Electric Vehicle Team share a machine shop a few blocks north of main campus. The FIRST Robotics team also has their own shop which they share with a few other engineering-related student groups (I can’t remember which at the moment). These shops are located in MIT building and owned by MIT, but the students are in charge- they literally have the keys to the rooms, so this creates a pretty different atmosphere. Those shops tend to be a bit messier than the academic shops, for example. These groups also typically allow their members to use the space for personal use at their own discretion- meaning I doubt you could just pretend to be a member to use the space, they’d probably expect you to show up to meetings and stuff. =) But during the crunch time for 2.007 last year, Adelaide ’09 and I certainly dragged all of our robot parts all the way over to the FIRST shop (the easternmost building on all of campus, and a huge pain to get to) to slave away on our projects for an entire Saturday.

So, there’s an overview of machine shops on campus- they’re run by academic departments, administrative departments, student groups, and even dorms. Obviously my entry is a bit biased- since I’m Course 2 I have the most photos of Course 2 lab space. But no matter what it is you want to do, I guarantee you can find access to some awesome power tools to get it done. =)

Responses to questions:
Kelsey K asked: But, are there welding facilities available to students? I’m one of those girls that likes to weld, and it would be amazing to know if there was somewhere I could Arc weld every now and then!
Hmm, I’m not entirely sure about that. I know there are welding facilities in Papallardo, but usually if you want something welded, the machine shop guys will do it for you. If you convince them that you know what you’re doing, maybe you’d be able to, but I’m not positive if they’d let students do it themselves.

EA applicant asked:
IT IS SOOO CLEAN!!!! How do you keep it like that??

It is true that you can keep a mini mill in your dorm at MIT?
And do you get time to work on your own projects?

The shops I’ve shown you pictures of are used for academic purposes. It’s expected that students clean up after themselves, or face the wrath of the shop guys, or a drop in their grades. I can guarantee that some of the other shops I’ve mentioned but don’t have pictures of (like the shops used by different engineering clubs) are much messier than that. =) But keep a mini mill in your dorm? Like in your room? I don’t know about that, but as I mentioned there are several dorms that have their own shops in a common area. Not sure if any of them have mills or lathes though. And the time to work on your own projects is whatever time you’re not doing your real psets.

Sh1fty asked:
can people who are not course 2 use those machines or at least get someone to make what they need?
Rachel asked:
Woahh! Do you get access if you’re not a course 2 major? Are there lots of CNCs? Is it okay to use the shop in the wee hours of the morning?
Generally the shops that are run by academic departments are strictly for the use of those students- but the Edgerton Center is open for all students to use. And yes, there are plenty of CNCs. Most of the mills and lathes have CNC capabilities. The shops I’ve shown you are only open when there’s someone there to staff them- but rest assured that engineering-centered student groups that have their own shops (FSAE, FIRST, Solar Car), are working all hours of the day and night.

Noelle and Haris asked:
Is it free?
With the exception of the Hobby Shop (which charges members a fee each semester- of about $50, if memory serves), all of the shops are free for the students who are allowed to use them (Course 2 students in Papallardo, for example). Generally you have to pay for your own materials, unless you can convince someone to give you scraps. You can also keep an eye on “reuse,” a mailing list where people post about stuff they don’t want anymore that you can go get for free.

Sam 2 asked:
Which Courses allow room for the most electives, and which ones require more courses within the major?
Harrison replied:
In response to Sam 2’s first/less serious question, from what I’ve seen Course 6 people (especially 6-3) on the old curriculum are consistently hosed but somehow always find time to complain about it/play Starcraft. 6 used to be an incredibly tough major until they messed with the curriculum. Also from what I hear Course 10 is also incredibly difficult but really awesome if you’re into ChemE.
Oh Harrison, who says they “messed up the cirriculum?” I happen to much prefer the new Course 6 cirriculum. Anyway, Harrison is actually mostly right- Courses 2 (Mechanical Engineering), 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), 10 (Chemical Engineering), and 16 (Aeronautics and Astronautics) are among the most “strict” in the sense that you get very few electives. Most Course 2 students actually only get 2 electives within the department. (That’s why 2A is much cooler. *grin*) Course 9 (Brain and Cognitive Sciences) is easily the most flexible, as those students get a wide selection of electives within their major. I can’t think of any other notably flexible major off of my head, except for maybe 8B (“flexible” physics). Each major is different, so there are definitely more that lie on the flexible end of the spectrum, but I don’t want to incorrectly label any of them and have lots of people yelling at me that I claimed that their major was easier than it actually is or something. =)

Anonymous asked:
What if are u are really honest about ur self..and it comes out in the app and in the recs and interview…but still the admissions people decide that you are just not good enough!!! Wouldn’t selling yourself by writing what they might want to hear…which u might be able to pull off have a better chance give u a better chance of getting in???
Of course not- that’s no way to lead your life. If you lie your way into MIT (which I don’t think you could even accomplish, these guys in admissions have read lots of applications and know BS when they see it), what are you going to do when you get here? Chances are you’ll be miserable, because you tried to convince MIT that you’d be perfect for it when you really weren’t. Plus, you’d never know if you were actually good enough, because you didn’t even give yourself a chance. But logic aside, the choice is ultimately yours. If you’d like to lie on your application and pretend to be something you’re not just to impress some people you’ve never met so you can go to some school that may not even be right for you, no one can stop you. But I can tell you that’s no way to lead a happy, healthy, and successful life.

an 8th grader, Trenten’16 asked:
I am an prospectent ’16er and I want to know your Course 6 and Course 2 classes.
Here’s my advice to you, and I really mean this in the most honest, sincere way possible. I’m not trying to be rude or snarky (for once): Focus on passing the 8th grade. I’m completely serious. You will have plenty of time to worry about college 2 and a half years from now, and there’s no need to start getting into the details of college classes now, when you’re still not even in high school yet. Just do the best you can in your classes, and follow your passions, and get back to us in 2 or 3 years with your questions.

Anonymous said (in response to my complains about not being able to remember a formula for my 2.005 exam):
the formula that you refer to was actually on the 2.005 aid sheet.. as it was on the 3rd test.. hmm.

tanmay said:
Well, I remember that Cp-Cv=R. So IF the log of the pressures is related to the ideal gas constant, then it’s also related to the specific heat at constant volume. Am I right???

I refer both of you to the following:
phreaker said:
Tanmay, discussing formulas AFTER the test with someone who forgot them is a good way to get beaten up :p

Ahem. Thank you.

Anonymous said:
I thought MIT students excelled in the area of test taking. You imply that they’re just ordinary people who were either lucky enough to get in. Oh wait…

to which phreaker replied:
Everyone is ordinary once you look at them long enough. And i’ll bet most ppl, including MIT students have trouble with tests, especially when competing with all the other good test takers ;)

Man, phreaker, you’re on a roll. Do you want my job?

Seriously though, the only claim anyone ever really made about MIT students is that they’re smart people. But we’re still people. We’re not perfect or superhuman, and we don’t like people thinking that we’re perfect or superhuman. It makes Christmas break really annoying, for one thing. (To quote numerous relatives: “So you get good grades, right?”) I’m sorry you were under the impression that we’re all super geniuses who never find exams difficult. I assure you that is not the case.

18 responses to “Machine Shops, Part 2”

  1. ? says:

    Someone else isn’t first.

  2. Laura says:

    Ahaha that comment just made my day. I should personally do that on all my entries….hmm…. =)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi laura
    I have a question. If a student is worthy enough to an MIT Student and he is not admitted because the students who applied were competitive and the admissions staff didn’t find him worthy of admission because of that, then what the student should do?

  4. Anonymous says:

    And I am talking in particular for international students.

  5. Ankit says:

    then u don’t go to MIT and make a plan….like all the other people that don’t get in!!thats life

  6. Vytautas says:

    Two versions of Plan B for getting in to MIT:
    1. Hijack Matt.
    2. Go to the lectures(I hope they’re not counting), sleep in the hallways and eat from the trashcans. You don’t get an official degree, but at MIT it’s not about it smile

  7. Vytautas says:

    Oh, and so that I wouldn’t need to step to one option of plan B: PLEASE, PLEASE. ADMIT ME TO MIT!

  8. Noelle says:

    I’m with Karen’s post above. With 2 days before FRC Kickoff, this was a nice little treat before we all start living in the shop again. I enjoy the tours of the various machine shops and thanks for answering my question!

  9. MIT2012 says:

    Course 2 students are required to take 2.670 during IAP? [Are there a lot of majors that/Do all majors] have a class during IAP that its students are required to take?

  10. milena '11 says:

    Uh… Most of the formulas I use in class I have to look up because I don’t know a lot off the top of my head. That’s what formula/cheat sheets are for! Silly prefrosh.

  11. Harrison says:

    So why are you complaining about not being Course 16 when you WERE Course 16 for a few weeks. Also I’m touched that you actually thought I was right about something for once.

  12. EA applicant says:

    Cool! my questions got answered!

    Are you allowed to take 2.670 in freshmen IAP? or is it only for sophomores who have already declared Course 2?

  13. Harrison says:

    @EA Applicant: So I actually asked this at the Major Fair early in the semester and they said that freshmen looking to get a head start on course 2 definitely shouldn’t take it freshman year. It’s already overenrolled and they don’t have shop space for the sophomores who need it AND the freshmen who want it. Plus, sophomores are actually committed to course 2 while freshmen might change their mind thereby wasting a spot in the class if they take it early and then switch to another department.

  14. Karen says:

    Nothing like a little bit of machine-shop eye candy two days before FIRST season starts! smile We just got a CNC plasma cam and think that we’re pretty awesome, but we have yet to make it cut a straight line, so we’ll see how this season goes. It’s kind of disappointing that only course 2 and 16 students can use some of the machine shops, but then again, I can’t really think of a situation where I would genuinely need one and wouldn’t be able to bribe a friend to mill something out for me!

  15. E. Rosser says:

    Hear, hear.
    In all seriousness and in the same vein as MIT students not being superhuman, not all of us are destined for MIT. There’s no difference between being MIT-quality and MIT-admitted: the volume of highly qualified applicants is so huge and the spectrum of qualifications so closely packed in the “excellent” slot that the slightest, most arbitrary detail will decide if someone gets in or not. It is ludicrous, (not stupid, ’cause no one who posts on the MIT website is “stupid”;) ), simply ludicrous to therefore not invest in other places, as well. Good schools await, where one can have happy college experiences BEYOND the thin MIT letter, if possible. By simply applying to MIT we have all gone farther than most people! So take solace, fellow applicants, and neglect not the what-if precautions of the college process!
    Whew, that was my feel-good peptalk of the day. I feel exhausted. Good luck in March, everyone!

  16. Collin says:

    Oh my gosh, the course 16 labs look AWESOME. I totally hope my deferral becomes an acceptance so I can run around in those labs sophomore year.

    Thats when you finally are put in your major right?

  17. Masud says:

    I laud Laura’s last few sentences in this blog post of hers- MITians, though extraordinary in some areas due to innate acumen and diligence in many instances, are NOT perfect! NO ONE IS,WAS,OR EVER WILL BE PERFECT!That does not, however, mean that we should not strive for perfection. Personally, i do strive for perfection but that’s mostly because I know if I fall short, I’ll still end up with something,though imperfect,(quite) remarkable. And ‘perfection’ can be extremely subjective in some cases. Ok enough about perfection…….Have a gr8 new year everyone!

  18. That’s some proper tools right there!