Grand opening for Innovation Fab Lab

Photo Courtesy: Tallahassee Democrat

Florida A&M University officially opened its Chevron STR²EAM Innovation Fab Lab — a design studio equipped with cutting-edge technology, including 3D printing, laser and vinyl cutting, and electronic workspaces — last Friday in partnership with the College of Education.

According to FAMU’s official website, the lab aims to “enrich and expose students, parents, and educators through exhilarating learning experiences tied to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) discovery.”

Directed by David White and managed by Alejandro Gonzalez, FAMU is among the few historically Black colleges with a Fab Lab, part of an initiative to diversify STEAM fields. Funding from Chevron, the Fab Lab Foundation, and the CIA made the workspace possible with $750,000 allocated for equipment, staffing, and curriculum.

Students and community members can embroider clothing in the lab, work with robots, and print and model 3D figures. The lab also offers workshops for students of all majors to learn new skills in various STEAM fields.

Soigné Thompson, a second-year biological education student, said she is most excited to use the fiber art and laser cutting materials for her school supplies. “It also gives me the opportunity to learn new skills that I can teach my students,” Thompson said.

Manager Alejandro Gonzalez believes that acquiring diverse skills is essential. “There are people who started out at a Fab Lab and have grown out of it to start their own companies,” Gonzalez said. “This trend is not limited to the U.S.; it’s growing worldwide.”

Shanteria Gordon, a junior secondary education student, noted that FAMU’s Chevron Lab enables students to develop valuable skills for various careers. “As a historically Black college, it is crucial for us to have access to these resources because we are highly underrepresented,” Gordon said.

Echoing similar sentiments, Ashley Rigby, a second-year elementary education student, said seeing African Americans represented in woodworking, robotics, and embroidery will encourage more students to pursue careers in STEAM. “Providing access to these resources ensures that we have the same opportunities as students from other institutions,” Rigby said.

With the push for diversity in STEAM, students and staff believe that FAMU’s Fab Lab is a valuable asset. “By having a fab lab, we can regain the title of being on the cutting edge of technology,” Gonzalez said.

FAMU’s Fab Lab is located on the first floor of the Gore Education Complex and is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Follow @famu_coe on Instagram for more updates regarding the lab.