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Fab Lab finds new home at UCOL

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Fab Lab Masterton has found a new home at UCOL’s Wairarapa campus as a part of a new collaboration between the two organisations.

Under the collaboration, Fab Lab will be operating out of UCOL’s G Block until the end of 2017, with the possibility of UCOL extending the arrangement for another two years.

Fab Lab Masterton provides community access to digital fabrication machinery, and works with schools to give students a hands-on learning experience using a range of 21st century technology. The Fab Lab includes tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, and vinyl cutters.

Wairarapa UCOL Campus Manager Maria McKenzie, who approached the Fab Lab about moving to UCOL, says that there is potential for UCOL to incorporate the Fab Lab’s resources into some of its programmes in the future.

"This collaboration has the potential to greatly enrich our teaching programmes and the overall UCOL experience. The resources and support on offer at the Fab Lab could drive innovation among our students and help equip them with the skills to contribute significantly to the Wairarapa community and economy."

Fab Lab Masterton Co-founder Kirsten Browne says that relocating to UCOL was a win-win situation for everyone involved, and UCOL staff have enthusiastically embraced the Fab Lab.

"Relocating to UCOL meets our needs to create sustainability in a very tight funding landscape, and generate broader maker-community engagement by partnering with established community entities. It also places us near our school-liaison partner, Wairarapa REAP."

"One of our top priorities is to introduce UCOL staff to the possibilities 21st century digital technology offers their students. We’re also going to contribute to the suite of courses UCOL offers at NCEA Levels 1-3. Beyond that, it’ll be business as usual with citizen workshops, innovation support for local businesses, school class bookings, teacher professional development, and projects all across the Wairarapa. We want to "spread the virus" of digitally enabled making for all, and UCOL is a new foundation stone for that."

Exciting things are already happening, with UCOL and the Fab Lab hosting the YETE (Youth Education, Training and Employment)/Careers NZ Innovative Industries Big Day Out on Friday June 23. This event will connect year 11 students from the Wairarapa with local businesses, and inform them of the appropriate education pathways that could lead to employment at these businesses.

UCOL Executive Director Business Development Arthur Chin says partnering with the Fab Lab is an exciting opportunity to connect further with Wairarapa businesses, secondary schools and local government.

"The Fab Lab is a fantastic concept that brings together people with different skill-sets and allows innovation to thrive. Together UCOL and Fab Lab Masterton can make this campus a unique rural centre where digital technology and maker culture are enabled and shine."

The Fab Lab concept originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2000. The concept has spread globally, with over 600 Fab Labs around the world, including six in New Zealand.

Upcoming event: Innovative Industries Big Day Out

When: Friday June 23, 9.30am to 2.30pm.

Where: Wairarapa UCOL, 143-159 Chapel Street, Masterton.

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