Like a proud father, Cedric Bleimling enjoys showing off the beginnings of the Permian Basin Fab Lab at Odessa College which will provide space for creating everything from furniture to engravings.
Bleimling, the fab, or fabrication, lab director, gave visitors a sneak preview of what will be a welcome wall where people can get information on what’s going on in the lab, the ShopBot router where furniture can be created, 3-D printers, vinyl cutters, laser cutters, electronics and an embroidery machine. For those who prefer printed matter, Bleimling said pamphlets would be available, as well.
The 4,000-square-foot environs in Sedate Hall also will include computers, a break area with a foosball table, sofas and tables and a coffee machine.
The area used to be the instruction area for HVAC — heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, Director of Media Relations and Publications Cheri Dalton said.
A grand opening is planned for Feb. 1, but Bleimling said community tours will be conducted before that to help stir up community interest. Tours will be Dec. 5 through Dec. 8 and Dec. 12 through Dec. 15.
Times are from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday; 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Bleimling said fabrication labs are meant to empower people to make their ideas a reality. He added that people don’t have to be experts.
“The whole point of the fab lab is trial and error,” Bleimling said.
The lab will be open to the community, businesses and students from the independent school districts and colleges.
“We will try to open in the evenings and the weekends, and I say try because we’re going to try to have the community run the place,” Bleimling said. “We’re always going to have someone here to ensure safety.”
Ector County Independent School District Executive Director of Career and Counseling Services Carla Byrne has been looking forward to having the lab available for a while. Byrne said it can expand students’ knowledge about science, technology, math and engineering, but it will also give those who may not be as STEM-minded a chance to express themselves.