Basic tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, and tape are difficult to find or are altogether unavailable on the Engineering campus. Such tools are often needed urgently by students, and should thus be placed in accessible locations. Additionally, critical resources such as color printing, bulk-scanning, engineering software for personal computers, and video editing software, are all unavailable to students. EDAB recommends providing students access to these resources to better support students academically and professionally.
EDAB has found that the availability of basic tools required by engineers is sorely lacking.
Students require an array of tools to engage in engineering work. For the actual construction of designs, such tools include screwdrivers, hammers, or tape - amongst others. Such tools are especially important because they are often needed urgently. For example, to complete a project, students might require tape - but it could be too late at night, too inconvenient, or otherwise expensive to purchase such tools. Thus, having a well-publicized stock in hand would be tremendously useful and convenient to students.
However, such tools are either unavailable, or their availability is poorly publicized. As one student put it, “Why do I have to ask to find out where to get screwdrivers in an engineering school?”
EDAB recommends that a supply of such tools be placed in an accessible location, perhaps in M62, or in M70. Though this would only represent a nominal cost to the administration, such tools would be immeasurably useful to students.
EDAB believes that key software and services are in need of improvement.
First, color printing is not readily available. Though the CETS office can help print in color, they are only open at select hours, and few students ever visit the CETS office (or know what it is). Thus, EDAB recommends that a color printer be installed.
Second, scanning services are also lacking. Indeed, students must currently scan documents manually, one page at a time. Yet, numerous printers nowadays allow for automatic scanning, where the entire stack is inserted, and automatically scanned. For example, such printers are available to Wharton students in Huntsman Hall. Such a printer should also be procured for Penn Engineering.
Third, key software is not readily available to students on their personal computers. It is difficult to underscore just how important having early access can be: early enough exposure to certain software often leads to technical proficiency that breeds genuine innovation. For example, Solidworks, a key design software, is not freely available to students Altium - an important circuit design software, is likewise unavailable for students’ personal computers. This is pernicious because students must travel to Engineering to make even minor edits, often late at night before projects are due. This is both dangerous and inconvenient. Though it might present a financial liability to the school, EDAB believes the benefits to students are significant enough to justify this cost. While Remote Desktop is available, students feel that it is slow, and often has compatibility issues with personal computers of different resolutions. EDAB recommends that a greater range of core software for each major be made available to students on their personal laptops. The way Matlab is made available to all is an excellent track record of success for this model.
Fourth, no video-editing software is currently available on Penn Engineering computers. Yet, making videos often need to be made, particularly to illustrate how a design functions. Our simple recommendation is that such software should be made available.