By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — University of Minnesota students are getting the chance to use new, hands-on technology to prepare them for careers in engineering.

The University officially unveiled three experiential learning labs Thursday within the College of Science and Engineering.

The labs feature state-of-the-art equipment, like 3D printers and laser cutters, to give students a competitive edge in their studies and life after college.

“We’re often very good at teaching and equations and theory, but we’ve fallen a bit behind,” said mechanical engineering professor Will Durfee. “And so we’re showing them how to take good ideas and build them.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The idea came from students who said they wanted access to equipment they would see in their fields.

“There are a lot of different companies that use these prototype parts, and signage is made with laser cutters,” Ben Guengerich, a lab manager, said.

John Adams, a junior at the U, spent Thursday using a hydro-abrasive water jet, which can cut things like wood, steel and even granite to make countertops.

“It is [powerful],” Adams said. “Especially if you put 30 horsepower behind it and pressurize it up.”

Any of that over your head? That is exactly why the U is training the next generation of engineers.

The upgrades cost around $2 million, with most of the money donated by an anonymous alumnus.

Kate Raddatz