Inside the EFX Lab

Walking through the first floor of the Griswold Science Building, it is hard not to be impressed by the EFX Lab’s brightly-lit space and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Since 2017, the EFX Lab has served as a place for community members to invent, create, and experiment. Equipped with a myriad of tools, including 3D printers and a large laser cutter, the lab hosts classes ranging from physics and engineering to architecture and humanities electives. Students have used the space to build miniature truss bridges, to test the suspension strengths of dry spaghetti strands, and to experiment with Arduino microcontrollers.
Charlie McLean ’22, an avid mountain biker, has been building a carbon fiber bicycle frame since the fall of 2020. To do so, McLean used Computer-Aided Design (CAD) 3D modeling programs and learned the science of bicycle mechanisms. McLean said, “Having the opportunity in the EFX Lab to create a bike that will best suit me is exciting. Simply knowing at the base level that I can go down to the lab with this idea and have the skills and resources to do it enables me to think bigger.”
The robotics team co-curricular, introduced in 2019, has given students opportunities to work on individual projects in the EFX Lab and participate in the Trinity College Fire Fighting Robot Contest. Mr. Michael Boone, instructor in physics & engineering and director of the EFX Lab, said, “Engineering is all about problem-solving, and I think a big part of it is the challenge of getting something to work. We always learn so much by doing something that is way out there rather than designing something safe.”
Although the pandemic has reduced use of the EFX Lab, teachers have adapted lessons to better suit distance learning. To accommodate masking and social distancing, teachers have adapted large-scale group projects into smaller, more individualized ones. Mr. Boone said, “Students working on individual projects still learned the same skills, such as metal-working, welding, and working with composite materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber.”
As in-person classes have begun, Mr. Boone shared his excitement, “I think the Hotchkiss community is really going to start to see what we are capable of doing in the EFX Lab.”

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.