From Odessa American’s Ruth Campbell: A steady stream of dignitaries and educators, including officials from Midland College, Ector County and Pecos-Toyah-Barstow ISDs, were on hand for the unveiling of the Fab Lab Permian Basin in Sedate Hall at Odessa College Wednesday.
The lab, which features everything from laser cutters and 3-D printers to vinyl cutters and milling machines, is meant to promote hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and math, a news release said. The opening was announced by Odessa College, the Fab Foundation and Chevron.
The Fab Lab Permian Basin will provide opportunities for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, trade and university students and community members to design and invent almost anything they can think of, the release said. The lab is run by director Cedric Bleimling.
The location for the lab was chosen because of Chevron’s longstanding partnership with OC. There also will be a mobile fab, or fabrication lab, outfitted with much of the same equipment as the stationary lab, that will travel throughout rural areas of the Permian Basin.
Odessa College President Gregory Williams said the fab lab is part of a worldwide movement and a chance for people in Odessa to connect with those around the world to learn from them and even teach them things.
Sherry Lassiter, director of the Fab Foundation and the global fab lab program out of MIT, said the lab gives people access to the tools for invention.
“I think a fab lab here in the Permian Basin is extremely important for a lot of different reasons. No. 1, it’s a new kind of education. It’s an interdisciplinary education we’re talking about. If you think about the future of manufacturing, say specifically, it’s no longer OK just to know one thing about how to use this machine or produce this one thing,” Lassiter said.
People have to understand not only the production process, but the programming and design behind it and they have to be creative and a problem solver in different ways than in the past, Lassiter said.