Special to the Illinois Business Journal
EDWARDSVILLE – Lewis and Clark Community College has unveiled a new facility aimed at fostering innovation on its N.O. Nelson campus in Edwardsville.
The 5,000-square-foot St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab will be used in classroom instruction and also by members of the public, who will be allowed to purchase monthly memberships for use of the space and equipment. The lab will feature areas for CNC, metalworking, wood/plastic working, clean manufacturing, design, finishing and electronics.
“The lab is an extension of our architecture, drafting, industrial technology and welding programs,” said Sue Czerwinski, dean of career programs at Lewis and Clark. “Students will use that space for classwork, but the lab will also serve a community need. We can be a place where inventors who have ideas can come in and create a prototype, and hobbyists can come in and use tools they wouldn’t normally have access to.”
The latest in a trend toward digital fabrication labs inspired by the MIT Fab Lab model, the St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab is unique to the St. Louis area and comprises the following capabilities, and more:
• Computer lab with all the necessary design software
• Digital fabrication tools including 3D printers, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, EDM, and many CNC machines
• Complete woodshop including a planer, lathe, shaper, wide-belt sander and scroll saw
• Metalworking tools including mills, lathes, ironworker, sheet metal machines and more
• Welding capabilities
• Casting and injection molding
• Full electronics areas with necessary equipment
• Finishing room with walk in booth, sandblaster, polishing wheels and buffers
• Assembly area with benches and vises for individual or group projects
• Nearby lounge with vending machines, television, computers and comfortable chairs
• Late hours to accommodate diverse schedules
“Lewis and Clark is empowering the students of the college and the members of the community to make their dreams a reality through the use of advanced manufacturing tools,” said Luke Jumper, St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab director. “The equipment that is available for their use in this lab is exceptional and will allow them to reach for ideas that might have been out of reach without it.”
The Fab Lab is the latest of Lewis and Clark’s efforts toward broadening STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) offerings for students. It was to open for business Oct. 1, followed by a grand opening for the facility set for Nov. 12.
“It’s combining the science and technology of manufacturing with the creativity of art, so you could work on a variety of projects,” Czerwinski said.
The Fab Lab resides in the space formerly utilized by the Southwest Illinois Advanced Manufacturing (SIAM) Center, a partnership of L&C and Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville.
Learn more at www.lc.edu/fablab. See more photos of the Fab Lab’s construction at http://bit.ly/FabLab2015.
Robotics Club finds home in Fab Lab
The Edwardsville Robotics Club is the first community group to utilize the new St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab.
The club competed in the St. Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in March, and used lab resources to build its robots.
“The Fab Lab has been a tremendous resource for our team,” said Randall Hauch, lead coach and mentor for FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) Team 4931, one of the teams that make up the club. “The space is perfect for cutting metal, assembling and building electronics, and assembling our 120-pound robots. We are very much looking forward to the completion of the Fab Lab, and training our students to work with all of the equipment. It will be an amazing asset for the community.”
Lewis and Clark’s Corporate and Community Learning program paired up with the Edwardsville Robotics Club this year to offer College for Kids programming at the college’s N.O. Nelson campus, home of the Fab Lab.
“Each year, we look for new and exciting learning opportunities to provide the community through our College for Kids summer camp program,” said Katie Haas, assistant director of CCL. “I’m excited to work with the mentors and students of Edwardsville Robotics to develop a day camp experience that will give kids an opportunity to explore the world of robotics this summer. The STEM learning that occurs in robotics is a great complement to the educational enrichment that defines the College for Kids program at Lewis and Clark.”
Visit the St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab’s website at www.lc.edu/fablab.