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Shop Permit Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need in order to use the Student Shop machines & equipment?

You will need to get the Student Shop permit that best meets your needs (see what permit is best for me?). Just like any other lab that uses dangerous materials or equipment we require potential shop users to prove they have basic knowledge of equipment and its safe operation. The permits allow for quick and easy identification of those who have this knowledge. To apply for a permit you must be either a current UW-Madison student with an affiliation to the College of Engineering (either an engineering major or in an engineering student organization) or a current member of the UW-Madison College of Engineering faculty or staff.

But I'm not a student; do I still need a permit?

Yes. All students, staff, and faculty looking to work in the shop (or check out tools) for any reason are required to obtain a permit.

What do I need to get a shop permit?

Please click the link in the navigation bar on the left of the screen that corresponds to the permit you wish to apply for. All information about the requirements and deadlines for the permit are located there.

What is EMU and how do I access it?

EMU is the online system the shop uses to manage permit, upgrade, reservation, seminar schedule, and seminar attendance records. You can access the system by typing the direct url ( into the url bar of any web browser. You can also click the link in the navigation bar at the top of this page labeled Reservations. This will take you to a page that has a link to EMU.

About how long will it take me to complete the requirements for a shop permit?

That depends entirely on which shop permit you choose (See also what permit is best for me?). The approximate time it takes to complete a permit is given on the permit's description page, links to which are given at the top of this page in the left hand navigation. It is strongly recommended that the permit process be completed as early in the semester as possible in order to avoid problems.

How much time do I have to complete my permit or upgrade?

Individuals have 45 days from the day they apply for a permit or upgrade. Individuals who do not complete their permit/upgrade within 45 days will have their progress reset and they will have to completely start over, reapplying for the permit/upgrade. This policy was enacted after having numerous individuals try to complete their permit/upgrade a month or more after taking the quizzes. Nearly all of them had forgotten the material in the quizzes and were thus not ready for seminars or work in the shop.

Permits sound like a hassle. Why do I need to get one?

The Student Shop contains machines that when operated improperly can cause serious injury or worse to the operator and those near by. In addition, when a machine is damaged it can take a long time and great expense to repair; limiting the availability of equipment when students need it most. Just like any other lab that uses dangerous materials or equipment we require potential shop users to prove they have basic knowledge of the equipment and its safe operation prior to its use; the permit requirements are the simplest way of proving that these users have this knowledge. It also gives the user the ability to complete quality work in a safe and efficient manner and the confidence of knowing that those working around them are working safely too.

I am in a class that uses the Student Shop for lab. If I do not get my permit in time can I come in the Student Shop anyway so I can do the lab?

No. Just like any other lab that uses dangerous materials or equipment; we require potential shop users to prove they have basic knowledge of equipment and its safe operation before being allowed to use it. All students enrolled in courses that have labs in the Student Shop are told at the beginning of the semester (by their professor) that they must obtain a green shop permit before being able to attend lab and are given enough time to do so. No exceptions will be made due to lack of planning or claims of ignorance. If you feel you were not adequately informed that is an issue that should be taken up with your professor.

If I fail to complete the requirements for a green permit in time for my lab can I simply downgrade to a red permit so I can complete some of my lab?

No. A red permit will not be issued to circumvent the green permit requirement for any class. No exceptions will be made due to lack of planning or claims of ignorance. If you feel you were not adequately informed that is an issue that should be taken up with your professor.

Once I have gotten my permit, am I completely trained?

No. The permit system is designed to impart only the most basic knowledge necessary to both ask useful questions (which our staff can answer) and use the equipment & machines safely. Complete training (especially on lathes and mills) takes years and acquiring expertise takes even longer.

Do I ever have to renew my permit?

No. Once you have your permit you have it for the rest of the time you spend at UW-Madison.

Can I switch from one permit to another if I need to at a later date?

Yes. You just need to apply for that permit online and complete the remaining requirements for that permit.

What permit is best for me?

Which permit is best for you depends on your needs. Each permit gives access to a different amount of shop resources. Read the information about the various permits using the navigation on the top, left hand side of this page.

The green permit requires a test piece; what is it and why?

See the page about the test piece located here.

What are permit upgrades?

Upgrades are additional privileges that can be added to a green or red permit. All upgrades require a specific seminar where Student Shop staff provide additional training. See the permit upgrades page for more information.

What are seminars; do they have any prerequisites?

There are machines and equipment in the Student Shop that have been deemed too dangerous to only require a simple multiple choice quiz to use. For this equipment we require a seminar. Seminars are small (around six people), in-person training sessions taught by the Student Shop staff. These seminars allow students to ask questions and learn by demonstration.
All seminars have at least one (but usually more) prerequisites. The full list of available upgrades can be found here. The list of prerequisites for each seminar can be found by clicking on the upgrade you are interested in.

When are seminars offered?

Seminar dates and times are posted in EMU under the "My Status" page. We schedule seminars as demand dictates. Each seminar requires a minium of 3 people on the wait list before it will be offered and may be cancelled if less than 3 people enroll.

How do I register for a seminar?

Seminar registrations are handled in EMU under the My Status page. EMU will only display seminars (and the ability to register for them) if the prerequisites for that seminar are met. If no seminars are currently available you may add yourself to the waiting list. When a seminar becomes available you will receive an email notifying you that you can now enroll (the wait list does not automatically enroll you).

How does the waiting list work? How can I get on it?

The waiting list is a feature in EMU that, if a seminar a student needs is unavailabe, allows students to be notified via email when the seminar becomes available again (the wait list does not automatically enroll you in seminars). Students may also add themseleves to the waiting list if none of the times available work with the student's schedule. Students will remain on the waiting list until they either register for the seminar they are on the waiting list for or they hit the 45 day deadline within which permits and permit upgrades must be completed. Student can add themselves to the waiting list by following the instructions to register for a seminar and then instead of selecting a seminar, select Add to waiting list.

I'm a professor/advisor. Can I arrange for a group of my students to all receive training at the same time through a special seminar?

Yes, depending on the specifics. There are a limited number of students that can fit around a machine for training (usually eight). Stop by the Student Shop between 8am & 4pm and talk to Larry Wheeler or email Larry at