CONCORD— A dollhouse, fidgets, personalized blocks and a walker for Lucky the duck were just some of the products created by students during the Fab Lab internship this summer.
Students from each of the Cabarrus County Schools National Academy Foundation (NAF) academies spent three weeks designing solutions for need seekers from across the county. Many of the need-seeking clients were people with various disabilities from local schools or What Matters Most, Inc. which has a mission to obtain and provide services for people with intellectual and development disabilities.
It all started with a grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. Jay M. Robinson’s Academy of Engineering and Automation received a grant from the foundation to the tune of over $51,000 that allowed staff to purchase 10 3D printers.
Academy coordinator Kristi Parlier said they wanted to use the 3D printers to create something meaningful, so they came up with the idea of the Fab Lab to get students their internship hours, teach them about the business world and give them interactions with a different segment of the population.
Through a donation of $3,500 from S&D Coffee and Tea, Parlier said she was going to be able to hire about eight students from Jay M. Robinson to participate since the internships are required to be paid.
But then the academy received a $10,000 donation from Corning Foundation that allowed staff to open the applications to students from other schools.
When the internship kicked off in June, the students met their clients, accessed their needs and came up with solutions.
At the end of the three weeks, need seekers and internship stakeholders were invited to an event at Jay M. Robinson where the students revealed what they have been working on.
Each group of students gave a presentation about what they chose to make and the development process, which wasn’t always perfect. The students had to collaborate to keep production going since 3D printing can take up to 36 hours and there were only 10 printers, and come up with solutions when the print didn’t come out quite right.