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“Open to everyone”: Brown Design Workshop engineers community through trainings, events

Workshop run by full-time engineering staff, student monitors, managers

After attending workshops on specific skills, students will get a sticker on their ID cards, which allows them to freely use the BDW’s makerspace and related tools.
Photo Courtesy of Angela Baek.
After attending workshops on specific skills, students will get a sticker on their ID cards, which allows them to freely use the BDW’s makerspace and related tools. Photo Courtesy of Angela Baek.

Brown Design Workshop, located in Barus and Holley, is a student-run maker space open to all Brown and RISD students, as well as Providence residents. The space is run by full-time engineering staff, as well as student monitors and managers who lead all of its workshops.

“We welcome everyone and really want to build a community of makers,” said Angela Baek ’24, a monitor at the BDW.

While “the Brown Design Workshop is used a lot by particularly engineering, visual art and architecture students at Brown,” the BDW is working to “publicize to everyone who wants to build,” said BDW Monitor Arjun Khurana ’25. 

The BDW runs skill-based workshops for students, which are offered on a first-come first-serve basis with no registration required. According to Baek, workshops range “from more standard ones like sewing and woodworking to advanced classes like,” computer numerical control.  


Workshops are given on weekdays at every even hour between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m.. Popular sessions such as laser-cutting, sewing and 3D printing are offered every week.

“All of our workshops are open to everyone. You don’t need any past experiences to join,” Baek said.

After attending workshops on specific skills, students receive a sticker on their ID cards — which they receive the first time they visit the BDW — that allows them to freely use the BDW’s maker space and related tools.

“Our 3D printers and laser cutters are usually at work at all hours, because students often use them for different classes or even for making toys,” BDW Manager Caroline Kaleel ’24 said. She added that students are also encouraged to navigate their interests by using the material circulation station, where samples and pieces are organized based on material type.

The BDW currently collaborates with both on-campus clubs as well as schools in the greater Providence area. 

“We host one-time workshops and provide materials for Brown Society of Women Engineers, Formula Racing, Art for Service and Women Build at Brown,” said Chloe Chow ’26, another monitor at BDW. 

A small group of students from the Lincoln School additionally “come in once a week to learn woodworking, metals and 3D printing with our monitors,” said Manager Serena Vu ’25. Students come to the BDW as part of their Introduction to Engineering classes and end the class by creating bio-inspired medical devices for their final project. 

High school students from the charter school Blackstone Academy also take their elective classes at the BDW, where they learn to use workshop tools for a community-impact project meant to benefit Blackstone or the public.

Moving forward, the BDW aims to increase engagement with the greater Providence community. It currently works to do so through passing out brochures and giving tours to non-Brown students. “We want to increase connections both in terms of reach and more intimate collaborations with other maker spaces,” said Baek. 

The managers also expect to initiate more projects and programs within the BDW.


BDW managers hope that the mending program, a project that they are bringing back, will bring more newcomers to the space. As part of the program, BDW monitors assist students in fixing anything they’d like.

“There aren’t many spaces on campus where hands-on learning is valued, so we really want to bring in more students where they can channel their creative outlet with their hands,” Manager Amick Sollenberger ’24 said. 

The BDW also hopes to increase sustainability in 2024 by promoting the reuse of typically discarded or scrap materials. “We are pushing for recycling for 3D printer filaments and using offcuts from wood projects for new projects,” Khurana said.

“So many projects have come up every year since I started at the Brown Design Workshop,” Baek said. “There’s always new machines that we acquire, and everyone feels some initiative to start something new.”

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“I’m excited to see what the monitors in training can come up with in terms of new ways to engage with tools and host workshops after this semester,” Baek added.

Rebecca Weng

Rebecca Weng is a Senior Staff Writer for Arts and Culture. She is a freshman from Guangzhou, China studying English and CS-Econ.

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