BLINN INNOVATION CENTER SEES ITS GREATER USE AS A STUDENT, EMPLOYEES TECHNOLOGY EMPLOYEES

The “Look what we did” wall at Blinn College District Innovation Center was so crowded that Dr. Michelle Walbeck asked some founders for a favor.

Jennifar Aktar Blinn, a professor in the Department of Engineering (left) and Michelle Walbeck, director of the Innovation Center (right), see Averey Bunger (second from left) and Yvonne Perez, students working on a robotic arm.
(By Blinn College)

“I said,‘ Take some things home so you can put some new things in, ’” Walbeck said with a laugh. “It’s exciting. Students start to see some things on the wall and come up with ideas: ‘I can do it too!’ ”

Walbeck manages the $ 35.5 million Innovation Center in the bright Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation (STEI) building on Blinn’s Brenham Campus. The STEI building, which opened last fall, houses classes in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, computer science, cybersecurity, engineering, geology, information technology, microbiology, nursing, organic chemistry and physics.

The 3,000-square-foot Innovation Center has high-tech programs such as a 3D printer lab, welding rods, a robotics area, a prototype and component workspace, a virtual reality space and enough space for a drone to fly.

The drone program was launched in the fall of 2021, and Blinn has hired a new assistant professor of unmanned aircraft system for the program. The 60-Hour Hour Lessons in Applied Science in Applied Small Aircraft Systems Technician Assembly provides instruction in drone maintenance, customization, acquisition, and commercial use.

It includes learning to fly a drone, and Walbeck said it has been a success for students.

“I really see people getting excited about that course, as well as the electives,” he said.

Since its opening, the Innovation Center has seen a steady stream of visitors and its increasing use of technology, especially a laser printer capable of cutting 3D printers and intricate designs on almost any surface.

“Students absolutely love it,” Walbeck said of the 3D printers that adorn the “Look What We Made” wall. “We take them in the process of creating a file (design) or preparing to find and print it online.

“We’re really taking advantage of this emerging technology. They range from the ladies in the cafeteria to the nursing students upstairs. The word has begun to spread. ‘

“We Made This Wall” at the Blinn-Brenham Innovation Center showcases items made on the center’s 3-D printers.
(By Blinn College)

The laser cutter “is always a great success,” he added. Walbeck said he sees it as a business opportunity that offers bespoke items.

“Instead of sitting for hours trying to cut things in a sawmill or a puzzle, they can do it fairly quickly and accurately with a laser cutter,” he said. “Name, the sky is the limit.”

The Innovation Center laser cutter has been used to create a variety of items, from Christmas decorations to greeting cards, to burning a photo in leather, wood or paper.

Walbeck said the center is taking more use of students as a learning center.

“The use of this room as a study room has grown tremendously. Small groups come to study together, ”he said. “I really see learning and commitment.”

Averey Bunger, the first student at La Vernia to enroll in the Texas A&M Engineering Academy in the Blinn-Brenham enrollment program, often attends the center. Bunger wants to graduate in mechanical engineering and is planning an internship in the field this summer.

“I really like the campus here,” he said. “I thought it would be best for me. The classes are smaller and the teachers are working with you one by one. ”

The Innovation Center, Bunger said, is “a lot of fun.”

“They show you how everything works,” he said.

Aanooalii Filoialii, a senior engineering student at the center, called it “my favorite building on campus.”

“I really like 3D printers,” Filoiali said.

Seeing the “Look what we did” wall, many of its members agree.

(Story by Richard Bray, Blinn Information)

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