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Small item does not mean small impact: Growing use of Fab Labs leads to first-rate prototype fabrications

Photo courtesy of UW-Stout

With the rapid growth of technological implementation in the classroom, many schools (K-12 and universities) have begun to experiment specifically with Fab Labs, or fabrication laboratories. Many of these labs are typically used in STEM education and often feature digital fabrication tools such as laser engravers, 3D printers, and vinyl cutters. That said, classrooms were losing sight of their mission in the lab due to the intrinsic hype that surrounds new technology, so Fab Lab faculty members began utilizing the “process trumps product” mindset to help reestablish focus in the labs. 

UW-Stout, among other universities and schools, have started partaking in Fab Lab Retreats where those attending experience a multi-day immersion program in design and digital fabrication. The participants then leave with new teaching strategies, working prototypes, and instructional materials which can be readily utilized and propagated in other Fab Labs.

"Keep it simple" has become the mantra of Fab Lab participants, and the labs themselves have helped engage students in new technological design processes, which has aided in the enhancement of critical thinking and problem solving skills throughout the UW System. 

Read more about Fab Labs here