The Instrument Shop includes a very nice Student Shop, available for all current students as well as faculty and staff. The shop is very well equipped for designing and building mechanical things and you are encouraged to use it.
Some electrical and controls work can be done in the student shop, but for all but the simplest tasks a much better resource is Tom Baraniak, the Physics Electronics and Lab Manager
Some common questions
Do projects have to be class-related? Projects can be for class or related to your studies, but they don't have to be. You don't need a reason to make something other than wanting to make it.
What kind of stuff can I make? Most anything mechanical out of most any material. If your project includes electronics we can find the resources for that, too. Before you start work you do need to have a pretty good idea of what you want to do, although something as simple as "take this apart and see how it works" is just fine. Keep in mind that doing the work correctly will take some time, probably longer than you think.
What training do I need to work in the shop? We want to get you going as quickly as possible. Training is provided one-on-one as needed depending on your previous experience and what you want to do.
Is any material available? We do have a selection of material on hand and much of it is available for students to use. If we don't have what you need on-hand you'll have to buy it, but we can help you find what you need.
Are there set hours? Generally the shop is available during regular open hours. It will probably work to just stop in but, to be sure, it's best to send an e-mail in advance. That way you can get the time and help that your project deserves.
I have a general idea of the way cool thing I want to make but it's kind of fuzzy. Can you help with the design too? Absolutely. You'll need better formed plans before you can start making something, but not to talk about it. The best thing you can do for your ideas is to take them out and talk about them, make sketches, maybe some paper prototypes or even a computer model. You might want to check out the CAD seminar.
What about cleaning up? I'm glad you asked about that. You have to clean up at the end of every work session. Be sure to leave time for that.
This is the place to make stuff.