The Machine Shop – ‘Hands On’ Student Learning in The Bergeron Centre

Second year students enrolled in Renaissance Engineer 3 – Mechanical Workshops (LE/MECH 2501) course got their first taste of their new work space the week of October 8th through October 14th, 2015. The ‘Machine Shop’ as the space is aptly named, is located on the basement level of The Bergeron Centre. This brand-new and state-of-the-art facility is $1 million sponsorship of impressive machines, apparatus and tools by Quanser. This engineering utopia will help students develop better practical skills through experiential learning in lieu of lecture structured teaching. Their assignment for this semester, manufacturing a hammer, from handle to head, from scratch.

The course, developed by Associate Professor Alex Czekanski and Mechanical Engineering Technician David Marcinkiewicz is one they hope will truly bring understanding for students in how to imagine future endeavors in practical approach and more importantly, be able to create them physically. The students themselves were more than satisfied with their new work space and had plenty positive remarks about it and their excitement for the rest of the semester.
A few words from the students themselves:

“I’m looking forward to getting more practical skills. Having more practical skills and experience which will greatly assist us in our theoretical knowledge and ability visualising the problems given to us and how best to deal with them. I’m looking forward to using all the new machines, the blades, mills and drill presses. They are going to help us a lot in understanding more complicated and complex topics in our courses. It’s especially in doing them by hand, that allows us to visualize things and more complicated ideas that you would have difficulty comprehending in a 2D fashion.” –Jordan Lovas

“Before hand, I thought this was going to be a slow process. But, the fact that we got to do hands on stuff right away on the first day was pretty cool. I’m looking forward to creating a hammer, from the handle to the head which should start soon. Learning the machines in class we can’t really visualise a lot and really know ‘Oh, I’m going to do this’. Coming here to the machine shop, even though it was introductory, still within ten minutes we were like Ok, this is what we’re supposed to do and how it is possible’”. – Harshil Patel

“Right now the class is fun. It is pretty good hands on work using the machines. You get to know what the final product is going to look like. You can feel the machine and we get a lot of practice also. So far this is all a fun activity, but I’m waiting because I know the hard stuff will come, and then the final evaluation to see how well we performed” –Swapnil Naik

“I thought this first class was pretty fun. There was a lot more info taken in than during the lectures. I learned more here in ten minutes than I did through the hundreds of slides in the lectures. The topic we are studying is quite hands on so this machine workshop is great.
We are assigned to make hammers but I would like see us making something more creative. Like if someone were to try and make their own individual project, they would have to figure out completely how they would carry out that task from conception to physical product and be able to plan ahead. If there was a next level course where this class was the prerequisite, I’d take it!
I don’t think many engineering schools have spaces like this, their own workshop to do hands on stuff over theoretical work, in that we are lucky”- Shayan Monabatti