Recommend soldering equipment and SMDs

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Recommend soldering equipment and SMDs

Can anyone recommend soldering and rework equipment?
Does anyone have experience with working with surface mount devices?

We're building 12 hive scales as part of a high school physics lab. The students assembled 6 hive interface boards Thursday. We need better soldering equipment and are looking at these for plated through hole (PTH) assembly:

Is it possible to do prototype and small production runs of boards using surface mount technology or is sophisticated equipment necessary?
Can prototype boards be built using something like epoxy, paste solder and hot air?