Creativity, invention, and innovation are values championed as central pillars of engineering education. However, university environments that foster open-ended design-build projects are uncommon. Fabrication and prototyping spaces at universities are typically ‘machine shops’ where students relinquish actual fabrication activities to trained professionals or are only accessible for academic assignments to highly trained students. The desire to make design and prototyping more integral to the engineering experience led to the creation of The Invention Studio, a free-to-use, 3,000-square-foot maker space and culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Though initially founded specifically for the Capstone Design course, the Invention Studio has taken on a life and culture of its own, far beyond just a capstone design prototyping lab. There, 1000 student users per month create things (using $1 million of capital equipment), meet, and mentor each other for at least 25 courses as well as independent personal projects. The Invention Studio is centrally managed and main tained by an undergraduate student group with support from the university staff and courses. In this descriptive program implementation report, the underlying motivation, organization, facilities, outreach, safety, funding, and challenges are presented in order to guide others in the creation of similar environments. The Invention Studio’s primary uses and impacts on students are described.
The Invention Studio’s facilities, infrastructure, and cultural transformation are demonstrating the value and sustainability of hands-on, design-build education to stimulate innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in engineering undergraduates.