The SMU Innovation Gymnasium is built to change engineering education. Research has shown that hands on learning is far more effective than the traditional classroom setting and the Innovation Gymnasium provides the space and tools necessary for students to apply their engineering knowledge to real world problems.
What is the ‘Innovation Gymnasium?’
The SMU Innovation Gymnasium is best described as a facility that combines a design studio, a machine shop, and a garage. It is 1200 ft2 of space, tools, and computers dedicated to undergraduate design projects. If the project fits through our doors (and sometimes if it doesn't), we can work on it.
Beyond student led projects, the Innovation Gymnasium hosts several different programs focused on providing undergraduate students with hands on design experience while remaining appealing to different students with different interests and levels of commitment.
The SMU Skunk Works Program is targeted at rapid development and innovation and requires a 24/7 commitment for a short time span.
The Innovation Competition is targeted at the entire SMU student body rewards students with interesting, and innovative, ideas.
Commercial Hunter is a partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps where we encourage students to think outside of the box and explore 'low tech' threats from terrorists.
In addition to these three flagship programs the Innovation Gymnasium has played host to a wide assortment of projects ranging from affordable housing to anti-piracy solutions for container ships. The Innovation Gymnasium is an engineering playground, if our students find it interesting we'll find a way to get it here.
We currently have a wide selection of hand and power tools as well as a a 3 axis CNC machine that doubles as a 3D printer. For things that can’t be fabricated in the Innovation Gymnasium we have access to the Lyle School of Engineering Machine Shop as well as the Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
In addition to fabrication tools the Innovation Gymnasium has several workstation computers loaded with a number of software packages chosen specifically to enhance the usefulness of the Gym; software such as Solid Edge for CAD, Matlab and Mathematica for computational analysis, LabView for instrumentation control and robotics, and multiple integrated development environments such as Microsoft's Visual Studio.
The Innovation Gymnasium is also fully equipped with electronic test equipment from National Instruments. We have a wide selection test equipment that enables us to do virtually anything an electronics lab would do. Using this equipment in conjunction with LabView gives our students powerful tools for designing and troubleshooting complex electric and electromechanical systems.