AccelerateX

A student demonstrates their project as part of the inaugural Maker Bootcamp, part of the AccelerateX winter program. The creations were showcased at the Expo on Jan. 25.

From Concept to Creation: The Inaugural AccelerateX Maker Bootcamp

Eleven Lehigh students participated in the innovative Maker Bootcamp, part of the AccelerateX winter program.

Photography by

Holly Fasching '26

In January, 11 Lehigh students participated in the inaugural Maker Bootcamp, a part of the AccelerateX winter program under Lehigh 360’s initiatives, hosted by the Design Labs. Throughout the intense 13-day program, the students harnessed their newly acquired skills to bring imaginative projects to life.

Their mechanical creations, including a precision paper cutter, a pipette machine, a fruit and vegetable cutter and a cupcake decorator, were showcased at the Expo on Thursday, Jan 25.

Brian Slocum, director of the Design Labs and Wilbur Powerhouse, recalled the night before the Expo, highlighting the students' enthusiastic exclamations as their designs came together late into the evening. "This created a joyous soundtrack that I wish could be on repeat within the Wilbur Powerhouse," Slocum said. "It was clear how a continuous, uninterrupted period of time significantly impacted skill development and creativity."

Slocum designed and ran the program in collaboration with Design Labs team members Kelly Zona and Michael Moore. He said the Maker Bootcamp aimed to fully immerse students in an experience that would bolster both their confidence and competence, utilizing as many Design Labs resources as possible.

Spencer Duff

Spencer Duff '25 shows off their creation for the AccelerateX Maker Bootcamp.

“I am pleased to say we achieved our goal of laying a foundation for students to confidently identify themselves as ‘makers’,” said Slocum. “Witnessing the joy on the students' faces, even amidst the challenges of realizing their visions, served as confirmation of their newfound passion for creation.”

Zona, manager of the Wilbur Powerhouse Design Labs, highlighted the program's structure, focusing on students' progression from foundational projects to the development and exhibition of their final projects at the Expo.

“Students started with foundational projects, gaining hands-on experience with various tools and electronics," said Zona. "This initial phase of learning how to use laser cutters, waterjets, CNC Mills and understand circuits and breadboarding, including working with resistors, capacitors, sensors and other devices, laid the groundwork for them to apply their skills in creating their final projects, which they proudly showcased at the Expo.”

Owen Roth '26, a mechanical engineering major, shared how the Bootcamp significantly broadened his perspective toward his time at Lehigh. Immersing himself in a maker-oriented environment allowed him to engage in a project thoroughly.

“Advancing in my mechanical engineering studies is enhancing my problem-solving skills and building confidence for complex challenges, which I see as foundational for my future career," said Roth. "These past two weeks have significantly expanded my project scope, introducing me to a range of technologies that I believe will be invaluable in my future endeavors.”

IDEAS major Samantha Anderson '26 recounted her experience at the Design Labs, where she initially felt reserved about using the equipment for fear of causing damage. However, through the instruction and guidance of the Design Labs team, she gained confidence in working with the machines.

"I strongly recommend that students visit the Design Labs as early as possible," Anderson said. "Speaking with their staff can open up a world of opportunities."

Accelerate XMaker Bootcamp

Eleven students participated in the inaugural Maker Bootcamp, a part of the AccelerateX winter program under Lehigh 360's initiatives.

AccelerateX offers a series of intensive and interdisciplinary short-term, winter programs designed to prepare students for their future careers.

Michelle Spada, the program manager for Lehigh 360, elaborated on the program name, AccelerateX, which embodies the concept of “accelerating” students on their journey to becoming Future Makers. The program's goal is to help students find their passions and “why,” identify an interdisciplinary cross-campus community and provide students with essential skills and mindsets that they can build upon throughout their remaining time at Lehigh.

"I am incredibly proud of this cohort. From day one, they were fully committed to the opportunity, consistently engaged and curious in each session, and they provided invaluable feedback for the program's future evolution," said Spada.

Bill Whitney, assistant vice provost for experiential learning programs, expressed anticipation for the future expansion and diversification of AccelerateX programs, inspired by the success of the inaugural Design Labs Maker Bootcamp.

“The Design Labs team fully embraced the notion of Future Makers in constructing a program that delivered an incredible set of technical skills while facilitating big-picture thinking about how these skills can apply to broader mindsets and goals,” Whitney said. “Based on the success of the Maker Bootcamp, we plan to expand AccelerateX next year, running multiple winter programs that will allow for students to take deep dives into different areas of study while also enhancing their personal and professional growth and development. We welcome the entire campus community to become involved in further activating our campus next January.”

Story by Haidan Hu

Photography by

Holly Fasching '26

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