Fab Lab Loudoun Pitch

I’ve been interested in the Fab Lab concept since hearing Neil Gershenfeld talk at the 2005 NSBA convention. I’ve pitched the idea to several administrators in my district over the past 2 or 3 years. I don’t think the concept has gained any traction but I still wanted to preserve the idea so am posting here.

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Fab Lab Loudoun is the hub for invention and making at The Academies of Loudoun. Following the MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms model, Fab Lab Loudoun provides students and the community a facility and tools to make almost anything.

Why The Academies of Loudoun need FabLab:

 The Fab Lab model saves months of initial planning for The Academies of Loudoun makerspace.

 Full Inventory of Hardware: https://docs.google.com/a/lcps.org/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AtIlZyLn99e6dGRleUJTY043a3FucUhFUVVBYTdxS3c&single=true&gid=0&output=html

 Full List of Software: http://www.fabfoundation.org/fab-labs/setting-up-a-fab-lab/setting-up-a-fab-lab

 Floor Plan Design: http://www.fabfoundation.org/fab-labs/setting-up-a-fab-lab/the-space/ and http://www.fabfoundation.org/fab-labs/setting-up-a-fab-lab/ideal-lab-layout/

The Fab Lab model provides a ready-made network for Research and Professional Development.

 Network of Existing Fab Labs: http://www.fabfoundation.org/fab-labs/

 Professional Development Program: http://www.fabacademy.org/

 Research Connection to MIT’s Center for Bits & Atoms: Students will have the same tools for research.  http://www.fabfoundation.org/fab-research/

 Community Involvement/Support: Public access to Fab Lab Loudoun (after-hours) will draw the smartest and most talented members of the community into The Academies of Loudoun to build and invent. The community involvement in the Fab Lab will ensure ongoing community support and provide a pool of talent for the Academies to draw on. (Really smart people are drawn to makerspaces and FabLabs. This is the type of space that Orbital Engineers and HHMI researchers will want to go to work on personal projects.)

Name Recognition and Branding: The MIT and Fab Lab names provide name recognition and branding opportunities to rally support for this unique space in Loudoun.

FAQ and Fab Lab Resources http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/faq/

Equipment cost for a double sized Fab Lab (2 of each machine) is around $100K. Ongoing cost would be staffing needed for the space both during the school day and after-hours for community involvement.