The Kern EDC staff and board members visited the CSUB Fab Lab yesterday, where they observed state of the art technology located right here at our local university campus. The Fab Lab, or “Fabrication Laboratory” is based on the MIT-designed model, which inspired their popular class “How to Make (Almost) Anything.” It is a part of the global design and fabrication team that helps engineers and designers produce prototypes. Fab Labs provide the opportunity for people with little technological expertise to develop highly complex inventions using technology previously only available to engineers. The idea is to promote innovation and to share it with others, along with the ability to produce it anywhere another Fab Lab exists. It is basically a subset of the “Makerspace” idea.
Fab Labs provide the opportunity for people with little technological expertise to develop highly complex inventions using technology previously only available to engineers.
Matt Chalker, the Fab Lab specialist and liaison, led the small tour and explained how the Fab Lab came to be in Bakersfield. With over 850 Fab Labs internationally and 150-200 in the United States, Chevron was the impetus to build one right here in Kern County. As a part of their K-12 STEM outreach outreach, the CSUB Fab Lab offers a unique opportunity to show children and adults alike the ever-evolving machinery that brings ideas to life. According to Chalker, most Fab Labs are in K-12 schools and community colleges; having one at a university is rare. Chevron paid to open 10 fab labs across the country, and Bakersfield is lucky enough to be one of those.
The lab is on a constant online video stream with other Fab Labs across the world, keeping alive the Lab’s promise of collaboration and innovation across languages, time zones and even majors. Fab Lab users across the world are able to watch what others are creating, and even talk to them, creating more of a peer-to-peer training. While visiting, Kern EDC was introduced to an array of machinery, including a computer-controlled laser cutter, 3-D printer, vinyl cutter, and Shop Bot (a Computer Numerically Controlled router for milling, drilling, and cutting of wood, plastic, metals and other materials).
The main role of the Lab is to demonstrate its capabilities to the K-12 age groups. The Lab was created in a partnership with the Bakersfield City School District as a part of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs, as a way of shaping student learning through technology. It is open four (4) hours a week for CSUB students, and Chalker leads tours for K-12 students and businesses when the schedule allows. Internships are being developed to extend lab hours for CSUB students, tours and public access.
The Lab is free to the public on Fridays from 3:00-5:00pm (1 hour of training time is included). While the access and use of machinery are free, attendees must provide their own materials. If you’re interested in visiting the Fab Lab, please visit EventBrite.com to schedule a time during public access hours (https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ca–bakersfield/csub-fab-lab/).
For more information on Fab Lab itself, please visit http://www.csub.edu/fablab/.