The Fab Lab
Building skills in advanced manufacturing through FVTC’s Fab Lab brings needed awareness about careers in the region.
Fox Valley Technical College’s Fab Lab, short for Fabrication Laboratory, is a one-of-a-kind resource in the region where hands-on technology affirms that the career outlook in advanced manufacturing is actually quite appealing.
“Manufacturing isn’t the dirty, dead-end career field it used to be,” states Fab Lab Manager Steve Gallagher. “It’s a new world filled with the latest technologies.”
The on-campus Fab Labs at FVTC’s Appleton and Oshkosh campuses, as well as a mobile unit which visits area middle and high schools, act as a pipeline for developing future talent. “Students do applied projects to spur their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math—the STEM curriculum,” says Dale Walker, director of FVTC’s Business & Industry Services division.
FVTC is providing adults as well as students a chance to build their own projects on the latest equipment. “Here they can use laser engravers, 3D printers, CNC routers, and more,” says Gallagher. “We have everything they need to take a new idea through mechanical design, engineering, prototyping, and even marketing.”
Most recently, the Fab Lab implemented a popular guitar-building class. Developed in partnership with Purdue University on a grant from the National Science Foundation, students start with a solid piece of wood and come out with a custom-designed working guitar. “Guitar building is a hook,” says Gallagher. “They’re really learning a variety of skills, including mechanical design and engineering, industrial design, graphics, and more.”