Director: Robert T.-I. Shin | Email
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Research and Innovation Through Project-Based Learning
Innovation and project-based learning come together at Lincoln Laboratory Beaver Works, a joint center between MIT Lincoln Laboratory and MIT School of Engineering. This hands-on laboratory, operated by Lincoln Laboratory, leverages synergies between campus research and the Laboratory’s technology areas to generate innovative solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow and expose a new generation of students to opportunities in engineering, research, and service to the nation.
The Center brings MIT students, faculty, and researchers together with Lincoln Laboratory staff to create and carry out innovative design/build projects across a broad range of engineering disciplines. Projects are at a scale that allows participants to work closely together to develop solutions that can be implemented on a large scale by using support and resources provided by the Laboratory. These projects provide students with exceptional project-based educational opportunities that are central to modern research and education. Furthermore, they give Lincoln Laboratory staff direct, immediate access to the talents and creativity of MIT students and faculty.
A key tenet of the Beaver Works Center is that innovative engineering prototyping is an art that can be learned through experience on exceptional projects. These opportunities are realized at the center through multiple venues:
- Capstone Projects – One-year development projects are executed in conjunction with a two-semester course, in which students work together to carry an idea from initial design through prototype fabrication and testing.
- Joint Research Projects – Cutting-edge research projects with participants from campus and the Laboratory explicitly leverage the strengths of both institutions to efficiently solve critical problems.
- Individual Research – Guided research provides individual development in a focused area. Examples include Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programs (UROP), Research Assistantship (RA) opportunities, and internships
Research opportunities enabled through Beaver Works are open to a range of disciplines that are central to Lincoln Laboratory and School of Engineering missions. Areas of focus include
- Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems
- Cyber security
- Engaging supercomputing
- Autonomy and robotic systems
- Non-destructive evaluation
- Energy systems
- Imaging and computer vision
- Distributed dynamic systems
- Signal processing
- Earth remote sensing
- Decision support
- Bioengineering technology
- Humanitarian Initiative
The majority of these activities are coordinated through the Beaver Works facility, which has flexible architectural components to support the dynamic and iterative process of idea generation and prototype design, and fabrication. The facility’s open floor plan enables fluid flow between collaborative research, classroom instruction, informal meetings, and a prototyping workshop. Its convenient location promotes campus collaboration, and regular shuttle stops make it a short ride from Lincoln Laboratory. The facility, which opened in November 2013, has 5,000 square feet of newly renovated space available to all MIT students and Lincoln Laboratory staff.