Today the hunt began for a FabLab manager and two technicians to run what will be an inspiring space in which to explore the digital-fabrication techniques and technologies of the modern maker culture.
The new team will ensure that the North East is plugged into the global network of FabLabs when the University of Sunderland opens its new creative learning-and-making workspace in Shackleton House in the city centre this September. Offering a diverse range of specialist digital and design fabrication equipment, FabLab Sunderland will be a creative space where anyone can make (almost) anything.
Tony Ikwue, Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the University commented: “Sunderland has a history and a passion for enterprise and innovation, so bringing the first FabLab to the North East demonstrates our commitment to build on this. At its heart FabLab is a technical hub for innovation and invention, stimulating entrepreneurship and a culture of learning and creativity. Developing the FabLab is part of the University’s strategy to increase regional enterprise and innovation by creating more opportunities for collaboration between the University and businesses in the North East.
“We’d love to hear from passionate people keen to work in the FabLab to make this happen. We are also looking for Fab Volunteers to help run activities and workshops in the FabLab.”
The FabLab concept combines a workspace, community maker-space and learning zone –encouraging people from all walks of life to collaborate, exchange ideas and make things using the specialist equipment on site. Each FabLab is a unique space, but linked to a global network of 350 other FabLabs across the world.
Jason Legget, Project Lead for FabLab Sunderland, said, “Since their inception at MIT in Boston in 2001, FabLabs have become an important aspect of truly innovative cities across the world. The North East has such a brilliant heritage of creative enterprise who knows someone out there right now could be the next Sir Joseph Swan and have their own ‘lightbulb moment’ in FabLab Sunderland!
“The world’s network of FabLabs has generated life-enhancing and imaginative commercial enterprises that offer solutions to global challenges and everyday problems. We envisage the FabLab offering easy-access support to SMEs, connecting regional businesses with a global community of learners, educators, technologists, researchers, makers and innovators and creating new innovative jobs for people across the region.”
At FabLab Sunderland equipment will allow users to sketch their ideas, learn how materials work and test the movement of objects in practice. FabLab users can develop their ideas using the latest software, digital fabrication equipment and tools to create functional prototypes and parts from many materials.