Kelly Zona shows a device in the Electronics Design Studio.

Students at work in the Electronics Design Studio.

Lehigh Design Labs Launches Electronics Design Studio

New facility helps students bring their ideas to life.

Lehigh Design Labs has opened a new, state-of-the-art Electronics Design Studio on the lower level of the Wilbur Powerhouse, offering students a fully equipped design hub for circuit prototyping, testing and PCB (printed circuit board) fabrication.

Brian Slocum, director of the Wilbur Powerhouse Design Labs, says what used to be the domain of an electrical engineer is now part of the fabric of design. He says that giving Lehigh students the resources and skills to create prototypes that integrate electronics is as essential as providing the resources for physically making that prototype.

“Adding this new studio is a game changer for the entire Lehigh community,” Slocum says. “I’ve already been awed by the work students have done in the short time this space has been available, and I’m excited to see the innovations the brilliant minds here at Lehigh come up with when they have this new resource to leverage alongside the rest of the cutting edge Design Labs facilities here on campus.”

Jackie You '26, Business major, a Design Lab Tech Fellow, showcasing a starter kit for electronics design.

Jackie You '26, a Design Lab Tech Fellow, showcases a starter kit for electronics design.

The Electronics Design Studio is part of an expansive network of fabrication facilities across Lehigh’s campus that gives students the resources to craft projects from a variety of materials. Equipped with 10 workstations, the studio is designed to provide all students with the tools and support to execute design projects and accomplish collaborative activities.

Each station at the Electronics Design Studio hosts a wide range of tools and supplies necessary for circuit building, including soldering stations and benchtop test equipment such as multimeters, power supplies, oscilloscopes and waveform generators. Additionally, the studio has a wide array of supplies for circuit prototyping, including microcontroller kits, breadboards, thru-hole components, and a range of sensors and actuators.

In addition to the workstations, the Electronics Design Studio features two machines for PCB fabrication, which are valuable tools for students studying electronic circuit design. The machines allow for the quick creation of circuit design prototypes, facilitating the testing and refinement process before committing to full-scale production.

“With the launch of the Electronics Design Studio, we have added an exciting new dimension of impact to the student experience,” says Steve DeWeerth, professor and dean, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. “Lehigh’s network of campus maker spaces already engages students from all majors and skill levels to flex their creativity in a wide variety of contexts. The university maintains assets that run the gamut from woodworking and 3D printing in metal, to theater set design and the development of bridge components. Now, students can pursue projects that integrate microcontrollers, sensors and actuators in the design of innovative new products and smart systems.”

Students of all backgrounds, regardless of prior experience with electronics or engineering design, are welcome to use the Electronics Design Studio, says Kelly Zona, manager of Wilbur Powerhouse Design Labs. She welcomes students to explore the studio and its offerings, with or without an appointment.

For students new to electronics, the studio provides starter kits that explain the basics of circuits, breadboards, resistors, capacitors and more. Zona and eight student tech fellows provide technical assistance and answer questions.

“Most of the students are coming in with a design idea or an already worked-on circuit,” says Zona. “But we can also help students to start building from an idea or a goal they want to achieve.”

Kelly Zona shows a device in the Electronics Design Studio.

Kelly Zona, manager of Wilbur Powerhouse Design Labs, shows a device in the Electronics Design Studio.

Luke Retting ’23G, who is pursuing a master’s in technical entrepreneurship (TE), recently visited the studio to fabricate a pressure ulcer prevention device. After learning about the studio from Michael Lehman, professor of practice and the director of the TE program at Lehigh, Retting walked in with an idea and left with a working pressure sensor.

“My experience with the lab was great,” says Retting. “I will be using the pressure sensor to test the effectiveness of my device and begin collecting verifiable data.”

Retting says he finds the studio immensely beneficial and plans to use the studio’s materials and resources in the future to continue his work in the Technical Entrepreneurship program.

Other projects that students have pursued in the studio include a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle, a sensor for a smart alarm clock, and an ambient light sensor.

“At Creative Inquiry, we strive to foster a culture of design and innovation. The launch of the Electronics Design Studio is a testament to that mission,” says Khanjan Mehta, vice provost for Creative Inquiry. “By providing students and faculty with access to the latest technology and resources, we're empowering them to bring their ideas to life and make a tangible impact. I'm excited to see the positive impact this studio will have on our students and the wider Lehigh community.”

The Electronics Design Studio will host workshops on a variety of topics, including soldering, circuit building, breadboarding, circuit prototyping and block coding. The no-cost workshops will be open to all students (no prior experience required) and designed to facilitate interdisciplinary learning and collaboration by increasing students’ knowledge and technical skills. Even if a student misses one session, they are encouraged to attend subsequent workshops. Faculty and staff who have an interest in circuit design are also welcome.

Students from different majors working on a capstone project with circuit components may find it challenging to materialize their ideas, says Zona, but attending these new workshops can help bridge the gap between ideation and creation.

Story by Haidan Hu

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