Design Lab - About Us

Mission Statement

The O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory (a.k.a. the Design Lab) at Rensselaer provides clinical real world experiences for students that build confidence and teaches integration of discipline-specific knowledge with practice on challenging multidisciplinary design projects. As educators, we strive to meet the needs of today's young as they become engineers. We show students what it means to be an engineer and how engineers help people and contribute to society.

Design Process & Approach

The Design Lab process provides a culminating experience intended to prepare students to enter the workforce. The projects are open-ended, technically challenging design problems that encompass a broad array of important contemporary issues. In addition to defining an important problem, sponsors provide a significant grant and interact directly with the students, faculty and staff who work to provide design solutions.

Resources & Facilities

The initial ideas of providing a place for students to collaborate on real world engineering design projects came about in the mid-1990s as a collaborative effort in and of itself. Building upon Rensselaer's heritage of preparing students in the application of science to the common purposes of life, a group of Rensselaer faculty members envisioned a new innovative teaching space that would facilitate multidisciplinary participation. Incorporating a flexible space where students would collaborate with industry sponsors to work on challenging real world problems, the Multidisciplinary Design Lab would set an example for others to follow. As originally envisioned, the Design Lab would include a conference area to facilitate teamwork, creative problem solving and project-based learning. In addition, prototyping facilities and workshops would be configured adjacent to the conference area to allow students to build and test their designs and turn their ideas into reality. Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team of faculty, enlightened administrators, and supportive benefactors, the Design Lab opened its doors in the Fall of 2000. Since then, we have engaged over 10,000 students in project-based learning experiences in the Design Lab and cadres of project sponsors have reaped the benefits.

History

The initial ideas of providing a place for students to collaborate on real world engineering design projects came about in the mid-1990s as a collaborative effort in and of itself. Building upon Rensselaer's heritage of preparing students in the application of science to the common purposes of life, a group of Rensselaer faculty members envisioned a new innovative teaching space that would facilitate multidisciplinary participation. Incorporating a flexible space where students would collaborate with industry sponsors to work on challenging real world problems, the Multidisciplinary Design Lab would set an example for others to follow. As originally envisioned, the Design Lab would include a conference area to facilitate teamwork, creative problem solving and project-based learning. In addition, prototyping facilities and workshops would be configured adjacent to the conference area to allow students to build and test their designs and turn their ideas into reality. Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated team of faculty, enlightened administrators, and supportive benefactors, the Design Lab opened its doors in the Fall of 2000. Since then, we have engaged over 10,000 students in project-based learning experiences in the Design Lab and cadres of project sponsors have reaped the benefits.