Innovation by Design
The SuSu and Mark A. Fischer ’72 Engineering Design Center gives students unique hands-on experiences to prepare them for a future in the industry.
- Written by Alyssa Johnson '20
- Oct. 1, 20204 min read
The SuSu and Mark A. Fischer ’72 Engineering Design Center (FEDC), located inside Texas A&M University’s Zachry Engineering Education Complex, is a state-of-the-art facility centered on three principles: learn, design and build. It houses various centers focused on project design, fabrication, prototyping, artisan design and long-term projects, all available to provide students in the College of Engineering the necessary resources to apply in practice what they learn in the classroom. Additionally, a fully equipped machine shop, 3D printing lab and pop-up classes expose students to advanced technology, software and equipment they may not otherwise experience before graduating.
Stuart Potter ’20, a mechanical engineering student and member of Texas A&M’s Formula SAE team, has spent countless hours alongside his team members researching, prototyping and building models and believes the FEDC has given them the tools to be successful. “We learn theoretically why things work in the classroom, but few students enter the industry with technical knowledge,” Potter said. “Understanding and communicating with the manufacturing side of engineering is crucial to excel in the industry, and the design center gives us that opportunity.”
Rodney Boehm ’78, director of engineering entrepreneurship, further testified to the center’s value. “The FEDC allows us to help students turn their dreams into reality,” he added. “Theory is critical to understanding, but building requires a different space and skills. Nothing is more rewarding than to see our students transform their knowledge into something tangible and unique.”
- The FEDC opened in 2018 and serves approximately 6,000 students per semester.
- Students can access more than 400 tools, all available for checkout if needed.
- More than 61,000 square feet of the Zachry Engineering Education Complex is dedicated to the FEDC.
- A 20,000-square-foot Table and Project Storage area provides students the necessary space to work on their respective projects.
- Six tables with electronic bench equipment and soldering are located in the 17,200-square-foot Project Build Space for specialty projects.
- The 10,000-square-foot Machine Shop houses metalworking and heavy-duty needs. After completing necessary training, students can also access high-powered tools and equipment.
- The 7,800-square-foot Artisan Shop gives students space to explore all non-metal fabrication, including wood, foam, ceramic, plastic and composites. Drill presses, belt sanders, circular and table saws, wood bandsaws, molders and foam cutters are available.
- 30 desktop 3D printers that can manufacture project components to customized specifications are located in the 2,100-square-foot Prototyping Shop.
- The Welding and Paint Shop occupy 2,000 square feet of the FEDC’s fabrication capacity. Students can utilize a full line of CNC machines and manual mills and lathes.
- Aggies Invent, Formula SAE, Women in Engineering and the Sounding Rocketry Team have made the FEDC their home for designing, manufacturing and building their latest projects.
- In 2019, more than 4,000 students had the opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills by attending one of 295 pop-up classes hosted by the FEDC, which focus on topics like laser cutting, printed circuit board design, welding and 3D printing.
- In April 2020, FEDC technicians and researchers manufactured and distributed 3,000 face shields to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and approximately 800 reusable nebulizer spacers, which push medicine into patients’ lungs, to Houston Methodist Hospital for health professionals serving on the frontlines of COVID-19.
- Committed to furthering engineering students’ success, SuSu and Mark A. Fischer ’72 gave $12 million to support the Zachry Complex’s construction; the FEDC is named in their honor.
Learn More: Interested in how you can support hands-on learning and transformational educational experiences for students through the Fischer Engineering Design Center? Contact Jay Roberts ’05 at email@example.com or (979) 845-5113.