A Space Just for Students

New collaboration area allows for peer-to-peer prototyping and a superior student teams workshop
students work on Baha Buggy design in new workshop

Engineering is a collaborative process, and at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, collaboration is a cornerstone of the student experience.

In fact, in the undergraduate capstone course Senior Design, students are challenged with taking a real-world engineering problem through the entire design process alongside a group of their peers. Thanks to the School’s close proximity to industry, faculty are able to partner with local businesses to actually “hire” these small groups.

For years, students from Senior Design have crouched in empty classrooms or gathered inside their garages to work — until now.

close-up of students working on frame

The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features a new space on the first floor just for students: the Black & Veatch Student Collaboration Studio. With large workspaces and access to state-of-the-art 3D printers, students will be able to collaborate much more effectively. For the first time ever, they can test their prototypes in a dedicated environment.

“These projects are really the first time the students get to work on a ‘real-world’ engineering problem, just like they will be doing in a few months after graduation,” says Assistant Dean Katherine Bloemker. “They are required to take their ideas from the concept phase through to the detail design phase and, most importantly, to the prototyping and testing phase.”

Classroom requirements aren’t the only thing to draw students to the first floor. Adjacent to the collaboration space is the Burns & McDonnell Student Teams’ Fabrication Shop, another hub for students to work together — designing and building for engineering competitions such as the concrete canoe, big beam challenge and, of course, our signature Baja Racing Team.

According to Baja Racing Vice President and Frame Lead Clayton Morgan, “Having access to this new space really changes the game in terms of our ability to compete.”

working together, side view of racer

The laser jet cutter, paint booth, drill press, horizontal band saw and other tools located in the student space have saved the team both time and money. Where they previously would have sent a frame to be fabricated by an external vendor, now they can manually bend, cut and notch the tubes together — allowing them to really experience bringing their designs to life.

Morgan, who is a junior in the mechanical engineering program, says he chose UMKC in part because the Baja Racing program was highlighted during his campus visit. He “saw the team was pretty prominent in the School and that year ranked 11th out of 116 teams nationwide, a sign that they’re top tier.”

In addition to Baja Racing, Morgan credits UMKC’s close proximity to industry with his choice to study here — both aspects of the school only enhanced by these new collaboration hubs.

student with helmet in racing buggy

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