Active Learning Labs Facilities

The Active Learning Labs has facilities in Pierce Hall and neighboring Maxwell-Dworkin. Students also have access to shared SEAS/Physics facilities in other buildings.

The Pierce Hall ground floor space has had both small and major renovations in the last 15 years. In 2001, G11, The Ford Plaza, was completed with help of a grant from Ford Motor Company. The BioMedical and Environmental Lab facilities were renovated as recently as 2013, with the conversion of G7C from a laser lab to a microfluidics and MEMS lab.

The Maxwell-Dworkin "MD" building was funded by William Gates and Stephen Ballmer and was dedicated on October 12, 1999, to house Computer Science and Electrical Engineering research and teaching. The basement space was built for SEAS undergraduate electrical engineering and computer science labs. A new design lab was built on the ground floor in 2011 (G114), and a other design spaces will result from the conversion of G135 and B125 in 2014.

Mechanical Engineering Labs

Pierce G6A - CAD/CAM Rapid Prototyping Machine Shop

G6A houses 2 Intelitek 3-axis CNC mills and two WABECO high speed 3-axis CNC mills, each with a controller and a PC. One of the 4 mills has an automatic tool changer. Work piece and cutter movement are precisely controlled to less than 0.001 in (0.025 mm), by means of precision ground slides and balls screws. These milling machines may be manually operated, mechanically automated, or digitally automated via computer numerical control and can perform a vast number of operations, from simple (e.g., slot and keyway cutting, planing, drilling) to complex (e.g., contouring and diesinking). The work piece is held in a vice or clamped directly to the machine’s table which moves sideways (x-axis) as well as in-and-out (y-axis) while the spindle, which houses the rotating cutter, moves vertically along the z-axis. These three axes (x,y,z) give rise to its 3-axis nomenclature.

Pierce G6B - CAD/CAM Rapid Prototyping Lab

The two Dimension 3D rapid prototyping machines located in G6B offer a modern, fast and low-cost method for building concepts and working models. The Dimension 1200es Series 3D printers run Catalyst EX software which automatically imports STL files, orients the designed part, slices the created file, generates support structures, and creates a precision deposition path to build a plastic model from ABS-Plus (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic. The support material used by the printer to build complicated designs is easily removed by soaking the printed structures in sodium hydroxide bath allowing for hands-free model completion. This rapid prototyping resource is shared across many undergraduate courses supported in the Active Learning Labs. 

Pierce G11 Mechanical Engineering Lab (1703 sq ft)

With its 1703 square feet area, this general lab space is the biggest among all active learning lab rooms available in Pierce Hall. It is used by a wide variety of courses to conduct experiments in solid mechanics, materials science, mechanical systems, fluid mechanics and transport processes, and thermodynamics. This lab space has been designed to allow easy connection of power and communication cables from an overhead chase arrangement. Several workbenches are equipped with Agilent function generators, digital oscilloscopes, power supplies, general-purpose multimeters, and computer workstations with LabVIEW software for data acquisition. Typical connection to data-acquisition sensors is provided through National Instruments DAQ interface boards or USB-6251 breakout boards using NI SCC modules for thermocouple, strain gage or voltage thru connections. Networked Dell and local HP DeskJet printers are available for students at each workbench. G11 lab houses larger equipment as well. The list includes the Applied Test Systems tensile strength machine, the LabVolt refrigeration training system, and the Vio-sense fluid flow experiment. G11, The Ford Plaza, was completed in 2001 with help of a grant from Ford Motor Company.

Pierce G12A Computer Design Lab (475 sq ft)

G12A lab space is dedicated to junior undergraduate projects including computer-aided design, drawing, assembly, and machining activities. Computers in this lab run SolidWorks. This software is used by students to create files used for milling on the Intelitek light machine mills, as well as Stereolithographic (STL) files used by the Dimension 3D printers.

Pierce G12B Machine Shop (588 sq ft)

This lab space is used for student machine shop workspace, as well as CAD/CAM fabrications and assembly activities. This student workspace is equipped with an assortment of hand tools, supplies, and fasteners. It also has a full range of high quality equipment and machines. The list includes Wilton machine tools, a 14” Vertical band saw, a 7x12 horizontal cut off saw, and a 15” digital display variable speed ½” drill press. Additionally, a student prototype machine shop with small Delta drill press and band saw, along with a Sherline 4400 Model Lathe are available. Parts cabinets contain an assortment of supplies such as fasteners, tool bits, tubing, piping, adhesives, and other tools commonly used in engineering assembly shops. Additional resources are available for SEAS students at the machine shops located in the nearby Northwest Laboratory and in the Lyman Laboratory.

BioMedical Engineering Labs

Pierce G7A - The Physiology Lab (409 sq ft)

This lab space is used by ES53 (Quantitative Physiology as a Basis for Bioengineering) and ES227 (Medical Device Design), where engineering students are given the opportunity to solve practical problems in a hospital setting, trying out the tools, learning about their use in real-world situations, and, in some cases, even sitting in on surgical procedures. The lab offers several workbenches and PCs connected to BIOPAC data acquisition and monitoring systems with analysis software. Each BIOPAC-MP35 system comes with peripherals to measure skin conductance, electrocardiogram, facial electromyogram, electroencephalogram, and noninvasive blood pressure.

Pierce G16A - Main BioMedical Engineering Lab (543 sq ft)

This lab space is used by ES1, ES122/222, and ES130/230; it is also available to undergraduate students wishing to conduct independent research. This lab is equipped with five workbenches (four regular and one ADA-compliant workbench). Each bench can accommodate two students and is equipped with two vacuum lines, gas and air lines, power supply outlets, VWR analog vortex mixer, VWR manual pipettes (10-20-200-1000 µL), disposal boxes, electric Pipetaid, and different size Pipette tip boxes. Each bench has two deep sinks at each end. G16A has a wide wash/dry sink with a large drying peg board, and a main chemical fume hood equipped with air/gas/vacuum lines as well as two (Spin coat G3P-8) specialty-coating systems and a UVO cleaner (Model 342). Additionally, this lab has a Labconco glassware washer and dryer, two Thermo 4°C fridges, a -80°C Freezer, a thermo French press cell disrupter, a Molecular Devices Spectra Max M2 multi detection reader, several Corning magnet plates, sensitive balances, and electrophoresis apparatus. G16A has an emergency eye wash and shower station.

Pierce G16C - BioMedical Engineering Fluorescence Microscopy Lab (108 sq ft)

This lab is equipped with a Leica DMIRE2 inverted fluorescent microscope used in many lab bioengineering exercises. The Leica DMIRE2 microscope incorporates a built-in Bertrand lens, 12V/100W transmitted light illumination, and a magnification changer. It currently possesses two fluorescent channels: DAPI and A488.

Pierce G16D - BioMedical Engineering Autoclave

The autoclave is used by the active learning labs team to disinfect and sterilize lab equipment, growth media, and reagents, as well as decontaminate bio-hazardous waste prior to professional disposal.

Pierce G17A - BioMedical Engineering Tissue Culture Lab (206 sq ft)

The biomedical engineering tissue culture lab is equipped with two Thermo laminar flow tissue culture hoods with Forma Class II B2 biological safety cabinets. Each hood can accommodate two students and is equipped with a built-in bleaching system that automatically treats collected biohazard waste with a 20% bleach solution prior to disposal. G17A has 3 Vista vision microscopes, Thermo forma 400 MLGP centrifuge, Thermo Heraeus PICO17 centrifuge, VWR water bath, Thermo 4oC fridge, and two Thermo 37oC water-jacketed CO2 incubators

Environmental Engineering Labs

Pierce G7B Main Environmental Engineering Lab (451 sq ft)

G7b Enviro LabThis space is used by environmental engineering students enrolled in ES164, ES165 and ES6. Six lab benches are available in a flexible configuration to support courses taught. When G7B is used to teach ES6, most lab benches are relocated to offer the necessary space to operate the Edibon wind tunnel and solar panel setups.


Pierce G7C Microfluidic & MEMS Lab (204 sq ft)

G7c Students working on microfluidicsG7C houses the active learning labs microfluidic facility. Established two years ago, this lab is equipped with state-of-the-art microfluidic vacuum pumps, syringe pumps, microscopes, microprojectors, PDMS mixer, polymerization oven, and +4°C, -20°C fridges. Several courses are supported by this facility including ES122 (Cellular Engineering), ES123 (Introduction to Fluid Mechanics) and ES276 (Introduction to MEMs).

Related story: Merging the classroom and the research laboratory

Design Spaces

Pierce G16b Design Lab (161 sq ft)

This space is used for student design prototyping. For 2013-2014 the student project in residence is the Shell Eco-Marathon team, who are building a prototype energy-efficient vehicle for the Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2014 competition.

MD G114 Senior Design Lab (733 sq ft)

Photo of Design Lab in 2011

This space houses all activities related to the ES100 senior capstone design course. As a dry lab, it supports all mechanical and electrical engineering design projects. Students’ projects of biological, biomedical and environmental engineering nature take place at Pierce Hall wet teaching labs. G114 is equipped with ten workbenches and hand tools required for basic electrical and mechanical engineering fabrication activities.

Related stories:

For cutting-edige biomedical materials, try corn (2012)

SEAS Plans for New Labs and Buildings (2011)

MD B125 Future home of Electrical Engineering Design Lab, 225 sq ft

MD G135 Future home of Design Lab

Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering Labs

MD B121 & B123 Computer Aided Design Labs (430 sq ft each)

Both rooms are used mainly as Computer Aided Design (CAD) labs. They house professional HP workstations (Windows-based), as well as Sun workstations (Unix-based), each with a 19” LCD display. Both labs are available 24/7 via swipe card access to students taking relevant courses. Available computers are equipped with specialized software including MATLAB, Simulink, Logicworks, MicroCAP, Pspice, HSPICE, ABAQUS, Synthesis, ArcInfo, ArcGIS, Virtuoso, CES, Verilog, Xilinx, GAMS, and Visual Studio, etc. These rooms are equipped with laser printers, a projector, and a projection screen. Internet access is available on all computers.

B123 lab houses a state of art 5-degree freedom computer controlled robot arm with PID control component and a vision monitoring mechanism.

MD B112 and B127 Electrical Engineering Labs (804 sq ft; 530 sq ft)

B112 and B127 labs are designated for electrical engineering lab exercises as well as activities related to EE practicum. Both labs are equipped with electrical engineering work stations. Each station is equipped with an Agilent arbitrary function generator with IEEE 488.2 (GPIB) interfaces, a digital multimeter with GPIB interface, a power supply, a color digital oscilloscope with RS232 interface, a Windows-based HP professional workstation, a 19” or 18” LCD display, a HP color DeskJet printer or an access to a in-the-room HP color LaserJet printer. B127 lab is mainly dedicated to computer hardware design & test laboratory exercises and with FPGA interfaces.  Additionally, B127 has National Instrument DAQ hardware, camera, and small programmable robot interface. 


Shared Resources

Left to right: Van Vleck Bridge from Pierce Hall (not shown) to Cruft Laboratory, Lyman Laboratory, Jefferson Physical Laboratory

SEAS and the Physics department share two additional instructional facilities:

Physics Machine Shop

Photo of engraved LED-lit sign

  • Basement of Lyman Lab
  • Overseen by Stan Cotreau, Machine Shop Manager and Instructor
  • Physics department site for the lab
  • Check out this 2003 article on Stan's shop!

Electronic Instrument Design Lab

Jim in his shop

  • Cruft Laboratory, 217 and 219
  • Overseen by Jim MacArthur, Electronics Shop Manager and Instructor
  • Physics department site for the lab
  • Check out this 2011 article on Jim's portable, $200 cancer detector!