A collage featuring a robotic arm, microphone, microscope, headphones, drill, calculator, spool of thread, race car, microchip, stand mixer, small rocket, acoustic guitar, Nintendo Switch, roll of film, clapboard, 3D printer, pepper, wrench, and large professional film camera.

NYU students in every major have access to extraordinary resources and the support they need to launch innovative projects and bring their visions to life. Write a feature-length film, develop a prototype, start a business, compose your first album, or create your dream video game. Chances are NYU has a resource to help you make it happen. Here, no matter what you’d like to achieve, you’ll find the labs, studios, makerspaces, and encouragement to do it. In part one of this feature, we introduce you to three vital resources available at NYU. Additionally, we share stories from students whose projects came to life because of them.

A male-presenting person walking up the stairs at the Leslie eLab. There are large windows around them.

Launch Your Business with the Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab

Have an idea for a business but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve already started building your venture and need assistance along the way? Regardless of where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurs Lab (Leslie eLab) is an NYU resource that helps student entrepreneurs create thriving businesses. The 6,800-square-foot facility, located in the heart of NYU’s Washington Square campus, gives entrepreneurs from across the University a place to connect and collaborate. By tapping into a vast array of resources, they can develop their ideas and inventions into start-ups.

“It’s great to be in an environment where everyone is working on a business of some kind,” says Anja Westhues. She’s a senior at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study concentrating in food and beverage marketing and minoring in Food Studies. Anja used the Leslie eLab to create and launch Endure Sport Nutrition, a three-step, whole food–based fueling system for athletes. “At a school as big as NYU, having that smaller, closer community through the eLab is really important.” Anja has participated in both the eLab’s Startup Bootcamp and Startup Sprint. During the Startup Sprint, a two-week intensive held over summer and winter breaks, she conducted more than 200 interviews with athletes around the nation. These interviews gave her insight into what her interviewees felt was missing in the world of endurance nutrition. Then, she could create a product to fill that void.

Students working on their engineering projects in a lab.

Find Innovative Solutions to Global Problems at the Engineering Design Studio

NYU Abu Dhabi’s Engineering Design Studio gives students access to a comfortable place to decompress and connect with like-minded peers outside of class. At the same time, they can work together to solve some of science’s—and humanity’s—biggest challenges. From figuring out how to better propel a rocket to finding ways to more efficiently document and prevent further damage to coral reefs, students at the lab are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible through engineering and design thinking. Located on NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus, this NYU resource is part engineering lab, part makerspace, and part idea incubator. Here, students can be found day and night using the studio’s technical resources and cutting-edge equipment to build their projects. All the while, they collaborate and solve problems with both peers and professors.

“I’m grateful that NYU Abu Dhabi provides a space where students can initiate large-scale projects with bold goals and get the support they need to execute them,” says NYU Abu Dhabi engineering alum Nishant Aswani. When he was an undergrad, Nishant was one of the first members of the Haloship team that competed in the Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico. Since 2022, the team has been working in parallel with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Together, they’re building a rocket component that NASA can use in their small spacecraft deployment technology.

Sophomore Hamza Anver, a Computer Science major and Engineering minor with a focus on electrical engineering, joined the project after meeting the other team members at the Engineering Design Studio. “It was nice being part of a group of people coming together and putting everything they have into a project because we genuinely want it to succeed,” he says.

Members of NYU Abu Dhabi’s engineering faculty are on-site to provide support at the studio. However, students are encouraged to create their own solutions to engineering challenges. Hamza adds, “We can bounce ideas off them, but they’re not going to tell us the answer.” Nishant, who is pursuing his PhD in Computer Science at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, now mentors the team. The students traveled to New Mexico for the Spaceport America Cup last summer and won second place for most innovative rocket. Then, they went to Los Angeles to present their design to NASA. “Students at NYU Abu Dhabi decided to take an audacious stance: we are going to modernize what high-powered rocketry looks like,” says Nishant. “The team was able to take the project and push it across the finish line because the Engineering Design Studio exists.”

Another group of students working at the studio created the reefRover, a submersible robot. It monitors underwater habitats like coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves, effectively revolutionizing marine research and conservation efforts. Team member Quan Nham, a senior Computer Engineering major focusing on electrical and electronics engineering, explains, “The robot can take pictures of the reef at different angles. Then, we combine them to form a 3D model. This helps us understand how the corals are responding to climate change.”

Last summer, the students had the opportunity to travel to the United States. There, they entered the annual RoboSub competition at the University of Maryland. Submarines designed by undergraduate student teams performed tasks, like passing through gates, touching images, and shooting torpedoes. “Although we didn’t reach the final round of the competition, we learned a lot from the experience,” recalls Quan. The team recently submitted a million-dollar proposal to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi to help monitor seagrass and corals in the United Arab Emirates.

The Food Photography professor giving a live cooking demonstration to a group of students in a kitchen.
©Samman: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

Bring Your Culinary Passions to Life at the NYU Food Lab

If you’re lucky enough to visit the NYU Food Lab while a class is in session, you’ll be greeted by the inviting scent of delicious, properly cooked food. Here, students don’t just cook nutritious, sustainable meals. They also learn the whys, hows, and science behind preparing everything from poultry to pastries.

“The Food Lab intrigued me because it implements a lot of things I’d studied in my other labs,” says Andrea Parra Silva. She’s a 2023 NYU Shanghai graduate who majored in Biology. Andrea took Intro to Foods and Food Science as an elective while studying abroad in New York City. “During the lessons, we went back to the molecular side of things. We learned amazing things in the classroom. Then we tested them in the kitchen. There’s a science behind cooking, and I really like how the Food Lab ties everything together.”

The lab is open to students from across NYU’s schools and colleges. However, those studying nutrition and dietetics will find access to a state-of-the-art, commercial-grade kitchen invaluable. The immersive nature of the lab provides nutrition and dietetics students with direct experience as they build their careers and prepare for a successful future working with clients.

“Going into nutrition, especially if I go into counseling, I need to understand how to cook and prepare food,” says Tillie Lewis. She is a Nutrition and Food Studies major who worked as a lab assistant in the Food Lab. So far, Tillie has made a variety of delectable, healthy dishes, including her favorite: spiced chocolate tofu pudding. “It’s helpful because I can confidently tell clients and patients how to cook properly. Plus, I have recipes to give them so they understand what makes a meal healthy. Ultimately, you can only learn so much in a classroom setting. So having this kitchen experience is important.”

Cindy Nowicki is a writer and content strategist in NYU’s Office of Marketing Communications. She enjoys meeting with students to learn about their experiences and telling the stories of all the wonderful things happening at NYU. Cindy holds a BA in English from the University of Richmond and studied English literature at the University of Bristol, England. A Brooklyn native, she still discovers new things about New York City every day. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons.