TTU participates in White House’s National Week of Making launch

For years, Tennessee Tech University students have created technologies and systems to solve problems facing society. Recently, the university expanded those opportunities by building a makerspace and expanding innovation and entrepreneurship efforts on campus.

This week, several university representatives will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the second National Maker Faire. TTU is also part of the Make Schools Alliance, a coalition of schools dedicated to the maker movement that works in partnership with the White House.

“Our hope for our students is that they learn to create jobs that inspire them and designing solutions to the problems facing society,” said TTU President Phil Oldham. “TTU has recommitted to that vision and we are proud to be a part of this national movement.”

The invitation is in part due to TTU engineering students’ selection to the National Science Foundation-funded Pathways to Innovation program, which is designed to instill entrepreneurial habits in the discipline. This is the second year TTU students have been involved.

This week, Oldham and Vahid Motevalli, associate dean of the College of Engineering, will attend an opening event for the National Week of Making and the National Makers Faire. The TTU motorsports team has also been invited to attend the fair to show their makers by design project, which involves designing kit cars for school and university students to learn about engineering hands-on. The group was nominated to attend after winning one of the categories in TTU’s entrepreneurship competition, Eagle Works.

The higher education alliance is designed to connect national connections between universities committed to expanding the maker movement by allowing students and others the space and support to build, design and test. TTU and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are the only public institutions in the state to be included in the alliance.

This year, TTU opened the iCube, featuring 3-D technology, collaborative office spaces and a makerspace, called the Innovation Discovery Learning Institute, which has tools and other equipment to allow faculty and students to tinker, design and test prototypes and inventions.

For years, TTU engineering students have developed devices to help area businesses and children with disabilities solve problems in original ways. Teams have made specialized wheelchairs, beds, exercise equipment and other assistive devices to suit children’s needs. Students from across university disciplines work on original and industry-sponsored research with faculty, including cancer detection and treatment, pollution mitigation projects and flood mapping. TTU students are also involved in outreach and education programs to introduce children to science, technology, engineering and math through the 100 Girls of Code program.