As grad students at SVA we have access to something called the Visible Futures Lab. It's a fabrication lab on the 7th floor at SVAs west side location. They have a woodshop, vinyl printers, 3d printers, etc. There's quite a bit of versatility in what you can make. Access to this diverse toolset is great, but it isn't worth a whole lot if you don't know how to use anything, and this is where my experience with the VFL has been so positive.
When you decide you want to make something, you set up a consultation appointment and submit your project description. Once you arrive, you, well, consult. You explain what you are looking to create, and they simply are there for you at every step of the process.
Azu and I wanted to make an enclosure for our latest Physical Computing project and Josh showed us how to use the laser cutter to make it happen. All told we spent about two hours experimenting and printing.
The important takeaway here is to just encourage learning new processes and experimenting. It would've been easy for Azu and I to cut some holes in some carboard and call it done, but it would have been a cop out. We pushed ourselves to branch out and learn something new, and now I feel totally comfortable making anything on a laser cutter. It was a nice break from messing with wires and code, and it gave us an opportunity to get our hands dirty.
I expect to continue this process of learning these new fabrication processes and I encourage you all to do the same. It's an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience!