Instructional Machine Shop Training and Certification

The mission of the Machine Shop is to teach Harvard students (primarily those in the Department of Physics and SEAS) operate machine shop equipment in a safe environment.

The following training sessions are now offered:

  1. Basic Instruction
  2. RED Certification, which is designed to give access to certain machines for casual users
  3. GREEN Certification, with involves more in-depth training
  4. Additional Training

Those who have RED certification will be able to operate machines which have red stickers near the power switch. Those with the GREEN certification will be able to operate all the red machine, plus the machines with the green stickers.

1. Basic Instruction

All users must complete the Machine Shop and Makerspace Safety Awareness class and email the certificate to

2. RED Certification

This class, which can only be taken after the Basic Training has been completed, includes a review of all safety rules and practices, a tour of the shop, a discussion on Machine Shop etiquette, and the rundown on the rest of the training process. It is offered twice per month:

1st Wednesday @10:30am, and 3rd Wednesday @2:00pm.

Upon complition of this class, students will be able to use the Machine Shop, but only during business hours and only when the shop manager is present. RED-certified user will not have after-hours shop access.

The following equipment is available to this group of users:

  • All sheet metal equipment (shear, punches and brake)
  • All measuring tools (rules, tape measure, calipers and micrometers)
  • All hand tools (hammers, screwdrivers, hacksaw, etc)
  • Band saws, both vertical and horizontal
  • Abrasive saw
  • Hydraulic press
  • Drill press
  • Belt sander and grinding wheels

3. GREEN Certification

The GREEN certification consists of one-on-one training and may take up to 40 hours to complete, depending on the student. Following the introductory class, students who choose this certification will schedule time to cut stock for their project with the shop manager. They must discuss their projects and the methods they intend to use with the shop manager prior to starting the machining process. After that, the students may come to work on their projects as their schedules allow, any time during regular shop hours:

Mon, Wed, Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tue, Thu: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

The GREEN certification training is designed to be flexible and to fit around academic classes; however, it is very important that basic competency criteria are covered in the class. Students will not be allowed after-hours access to the machine shop until they have proven themselves to be able to handle the machines competently and safely.

Only authorized shop users may work in the shop after hours. Authorized shop users are graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members in SEAS and teh Department of Physics, who have completed the green training. Undergraduate students who have completed the green certification training are allowed to work after hours ONLY shen a moniro is present.

All GREEN-certified students are allowed to operate all of the equipment available to the RED-certified group, as well as the following tools:

  • Milling machines
  • Lathes
  • Surface grinder

4. Additional Training

Additional training available as needed:

  • Milling machine CNC programming (prerequisite – must be GREEN certified )
  • Lathe CNC programming (prerequisite – must be GREEN certified)
  • Welding (TIG method)
  • Torch Brazing (silver soldering)
  • Laser cutting (both plastic and steel )
  • 3D printing

Other Information

All classes are given to the members of the Physics Department and SEAS for free, as long as a request is made on their behalf by their Faculty Advisor. All others must pay a $150.00 fee for the RED certification class and $750 for the GREEN certification.

Machinery in the shop will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. If the equipment needed is unavailable, the student will have to return at a later date to use it.

To sign up for the Machine Shop classes, please fill out this form and submit it electronically to You will receive a confirmation email with the date and time of the next class.