WCC hopes to establish a Fab Lab

MIT developed the computer-controlled machining shop
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Mobile Fabrication Laboratory—Fab Lab—exhibit at Waubonsee Community College gave attendees a glimpse of the computer-controlled machining shop’s ability to design and build just about anything the mind can imagine.

“The Fab Lab turns concepts into reality and promotes science, engineering and math,” said Jeff Noblitt, Waubonsee’s marketing and communication director. “It benefits entrepreneurs and can help both the local and global economy.”

Massachussets Institute of Technology PhD students accompanied the Fab Lab mobile to Waubonsee’s debut at the Aurora campus on Sept. 3. Able to take ideas and create prototypes, the laboratory has such vast capabilities that Waubonsee is considering opening a permanent Fab Lab in its new downtown Aurora campus sometime in 2011.

“There’s currently no funding for the project, and the proposal is still outstanding, so the cost of the project is still undetermined,” Noblitt said. “Waubonsee is pursuing funding, though.”

The recent Fab Lab exhibit came at no cost, as MIT financed the entire demonstration, Noblitt said.

Rep. Bill Foster (IL-14) helped Waubonsee arrange the Fab Lab visit.

“We were excited to work with the city of Aurora and Bill Foster (to bring the Fab Lab to Waubonsee),” Noblitt said.

Foster was on hand at Waubonsee to introduce the Fab Lab the day before the exhibit at Galena and Stolp avenues.

The congressman lauded the mobile lab’s potential and capabilities.

“The rapid manufacturing capability of MIT Fab Labs helps students complete the link between designing parts on a computer and holding finished parts in their hands,” Foster said. “They can then incorporate those parts into their inventions, their works of art or new products.”

Foster added that Fab Labs spread the means to innovate and produce real-world useful products like no other concept since the Industrial Revolution.