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Institute's new Central Machine Shop to open

An open house will mark the opening of MIT's new Central Machine Shop in Rm 38-001 on Wednesday, Nov. 5 from 2-4pm. The event will include demonstrations of new equipment, food, gifts and a raffle.

The shop is designed to provide convenient, flexible and cost-effective machine shop services to the MIT research community, and also act as a clearinghouse for sending larger jobs to external shops when necessary. Six full-time machinists can use anything from rough sketches to machine drawings to create products in aluminum, stainless steel, copper, plastics and other materials.

The new facility is located in the basement of Building 38, on the site of the former machine shop of the Research Laboratory for Electronics and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) student machine shop. A new Institute student shop under the direction of the Edgerton Center within EECS will be located across Vassar Street in Building 44.

MIT once had several large machine shops on campus, but most of them had closed or were about to close by 1994, when Dean of Science Robert Birgeneau formed an ad hoc committee to study the Institute's future machine shop needs. By that time, the only major machine shop left on campus was the Laboratory for Nuclear Science (LNS) shop, but that facility also faced problems of aging equipment and the need to relocate from Building 20, which is scheduled to be demolished.

The committee, chaired by Institute Professor Emeritus John S. Waugh of chemistry, concluded that a central machine shop was important for research and education at MIT. Members recommended that the LNS shop be significantly upgraded and reestablished as the Institute's central shop, operated by LNS and open to all members of the MIT community.

Another committee recommendation was to create the new position of shop coordinator. That person will act as liaison with outside machine and specialty shops, provide users with job estimates and scheduling, and offer drafting and design assistance. The coordinator, whose services are free to MIT users, is Andrew Gallant (x8-0789).

All MIT students, faculty and staff will have access to the shop at a rate of $52 per hour. The rate will be adjusted periodically to reflect changing income and expenses. Authorized users may also borrow hardware supplies and tools from the Central Machine Shop's stockroom. The main number and e-mail address for the shop are x3-2392, <>. A Web site is also being developed at <>. Users may place requests for services by phone or from a Web form.

The committee's recommendations were accepted by the deans of science and engineering as well as the provost and vice president for research, all of whom provided financial support for the establishment of the new shop.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 1997.

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