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Open to all incoming Purdue first-year students.  No major turned away!

This community focuses on both learning how to design and plan a project, but at the same time how to build it yourself!  This experience focuses on training students in varying fabrication and manufacturing techniques and technologies inside the state-of-the-art Bechtel Innovation Design Center.  

The Hands-On Design and Fabrication (HDF) learning community offers an academic year experience (fall and spring semesters) for students to learn and gain experience in computer aided design (CAD) and machining principles, while also designing and seeing projects through completion.  Students will also live together in Wiley Hall, which just a quick walk from the Bechtel Innovation Design Center.  Living in the same residence hall allows participants to connect on projects on their own time as well as form study groups and interact socially.

Participants will have the opportunity to get experience in the following areas:

  • Computer numeric control (CNC) mills
  • Professional spray painting and finishing on a variety of materials
  • Woodworking
  • Metalworking
  • Welding
  • Electronics fabrication
  • 3D printing
  • Laser cutting
  • Computer aided design (CAD) software

How do we do it?

  • Learning nights (50% learning the equipment, 50% learning design)
  • Fun build nights twice a month
  • Design and fabrication competition in the spring semester that will be open to all of campus
aerial view of equipment
3D printers
students using machine


  • First-time beginning students admitted to any college/school/major

Residential Component

  • Optional for female students in Shreve Hall
  • Optional for male students in Wiley Hall 
  • Circumstances preventing a student from living in this hall, such as participating in the Honors College or Athletics, will be taken into consideration when conducting the placement process
  • Your roommate in many cases will be a member of the learning community
  • Completing a housing contract is a separate process from applying for a learning community


Fall and Spring semesters

Associated Classes

  • ENGR 10301 - Introduction to Engineering in Practice (1 credit)

Students placed into this learning community will automatically be placed into the course. If a student decides they do not want to take the course, they can email to be removed from the course and learning community.

Events and Activities Included:

  • Fun build nights
  • A trip to the biennial International Manufacturing Trade Show in Chicago (early fall semester in even years)
  • A trip to a theater to view the technical/production aspect of a show
  • Tours of nearby building and fabrication companies
  • Opportunities to explore various careers involving design and fabrication
  • Organize and lead campus-wide design and fabrication competition in spring semester

Information above is subject to change. If you are placed in the LC, the associated courses will be on your schedule prior to you registering for the rest of your courses.

Learning Communities  HILL 1301 3rd Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906 - (765) 494-2020,

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