More Than a Machine Shop

For students, it's a hands-on hub.

March/April 2011

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More Than a Machine Shop

Photo: Linda A. Cicero

Seen through the archway off Duena Street (behind Old Union), the stencil on the door clearly reads "Machine Shop." And, to be sure, the workspace—part of a complex that comprises the Product Realization Laboratory—is full of machines: mills, lathes, saws and presses for cutting and forming objects out of metal or plastic. But this place is not really about tools, or even products for that matter. On this point, PRL co-director David Beach, '68, MS '72, is adamant: "It's about the people." Open to students of all levels from across the University—provided they've taken the requisite safety classes—the PRL is "a melting pot" as well as "a bridge to the world of manufacturing" beyond Palm Drive.

Machine Shop Trivia

  • One of the earliest campus structures, Building 610 was once part of the corporation yard, which housed the University police, fire department, and plumbing and auto repair shops.
  • The University has always had a space where students could make things. It was important to Jane Stanford, who once remarked: "If my boy were still alive, this is where he would be."

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