Product Innovation Cellar opens in Electronic Systems Engineering Technology Program

Photo of students working in Product Innovation Cellar


In January 2013, the electronic systems engineering technology (ESET) program opened the Product Innovation Cellar (PIC) in the basement of Thompson Hall.

The new facility was created to afford undergraduate students the unique opportunity to work on multidisciplinary projects from the design and development process to commercialization.

“The types of projects the students are working on are exactly what the private sector needs,” said Dr. Jay Porter, electronic systems engineering technology professor. “Now that we’re in this fantastic new facility, we want to branch out by developing prototypes and products for both Texas A&M and external customers who have a need for electronic technology solutions, such as first responders and those who focus on improving the overall quality of life.”

The PIC’s mission is to “prepare graduates for immediate impact and long-term career success by providing real-world, hands-on education coupled with undergraduate applied research experiences in electronic product, test, and system integration engineering.”

Photo of students working in Product Innovation CellarBy supporting upper-level activities where students develop prototypes and then create fully operational and functional products, many companies and organizations such as Grainger, NASA, Cisco and Texas Instruments have supported multidisciplinary teams to develop products for them. Students are also encouraged to develop entrepreneurial and engineering skills by proposing their own ideas for product development and implementation.

“The PIC has become my home away from home” said Jeffrey Jordan, a senior ESET major. “We have all the tools you need for product development and the ability to immediately perform testing after you’ve built your prototype. It’s a place where students learn how to use design tools and equipment found in industry These skills are highly desired by industry, especially for a student just graduating from college.”

The 3,400 square foot facilityPhoto of students working in Product Innovation Cellar boasts an open area workspace that encourages conversations and interactions between teams and faculty; an electronic fabrication lab for production and testing; a mechanical fabrication lab equipped with a 3D printer, a computer numerical control (CNC) machine; a parts store; a design lab; and an industry collaboration meeting room complete with a SMART Board and video conference capabilities where students can interact with their industry partners.   

The PIC is a 24/7 resource for undergraduate students working on approved projects with detailed safety guidelines.

“The PIC allows us to communicate in this great open space rather than being isolated in a classroom,” said Akeem Whitehead, a senior ESET major. “Our project helped me properly prepare for a recent interview after which I was offered a position. I think much of the job offer had to do with the opportunities I have had in the PIC.”

To learn more about the PIC, contact Dr. Jay Porter or Dr. Joseph Morgan