Engineering students are encouraged to become involved in faculty research, and we show students in the first half-credit course (ENGR 005) around the faculty labs and discuss what projects are going on. In the end, between a quarter and a third of all students join in faculty research, many finding their names on a published paper.
Our major concern when designing our facilities is how well they will help students learn. We may not have all the multi-million-dollar lab equipment available at larger universities, but any equipment that we do have is fully available for hands-on use by undergraduates for class work and individual projects. Alumni often report that one of the greatest benefits of their Swarthmore Engineering education was that they learned how to figure out how to make something work.