Putting Design Front and Center
College to Develop Engineering Product Innovation Center
By Mark Dwortzan
Located in the heart of BU's Charles River campus, EPIC will serve as the College of Engineering's "window" on Commonwealth Avenue, and invite pedestrians to stop and watch engineers at work. (Images courtesy of Wilson Architects.)
Serving as a resource to significantly increase the amount of design work in the undergraduate curriculum, EPIC will include flexible teaching spaces, demonstration areas, laboratories, design spaces and fabrication facilities, all in a reconfigurable layout.
Recognizing the value of experiential learning opportunities in keeping engineering undergraduates engaged and in preparing them to transform concepts into innovative products and technologies that move society forward, the College of Engineering has begun construction of the Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC). Slated for launch in the coming academic year, EPIC will serve as a resource to significantly increase the amount of design work in the undergraduate curriculum through stand-alone courses, enhancements to existing courses and opportunities to collaborate with fellow students, faculty and working engineers from a variety of disciplines.
“By doing this in an interdisciplinary way, we’ll have an opportunity to show our budding engineers how design is a common discipline that affects all fields,” said Thomas D.C. Little, associate dean for Educational Initiatives.
Occupying the former Guitar Center space on the first floor of 750 Commonwealth Avenue and a small portion of an adjacent commercial parking garage, EPIC will also provide an environment where both undergraduate and graduate students can develop the knowledge and skills needed in tomorrow’s manufacturing enterprises.
The center will include flexible, high-tech teaching spaces, demonstration areas, laboratories, design spaces and fabrication facilities—all in a reconfigurable layout. Students will have access to advanced machining tools, laser processing equipment, rapid 3-D printers, intelligent robotics and state-of-the-art software. Once EPIC goes live, they’ll learn how to create innovative new products in an integrated, holistic way that encompasses design, prototyping, fabrication, manufacturing and lifecycle management.
“We approach the construction of this facility with a belief that the reason students want to become engineers is that they like to build new things,” said EPIC Director and Professor of Practice Gerald Fine (ME, MSE). “We also believe that engineering design is an important part of engineering education and should be woven into the curriculum starting in the freshman year.”
EPIC’s work will be complemented by BU’s Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation, which advances technological solutions for a wide range of industries. By training students to work with engineers, scientists and faculty on high-impact projects, EPIC will leverage CMI’s resources, including internship opportunities, to give students a running start when they join the workforce.
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