G.WIZ! Fab Lab Gives Sarasota Innovators A New Playground

Imagine a fully-equipped lab in which to map out your great idea. A computer on which to write it out, a CAD machine on which to design it, a lathe on which to craft a model. It's possible, and it's coming to Tampa Bay.

Sarasota's G.WIZ The Science Museum recently announced plans to dedicate a portion of its building space to house a "fab lab," thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Faulhaber Family Foundation. The Faulhaber Fab Lab will promote science literacy and cross-discipline collaboration and innovation, giving community members access to high-tech tools with which to bring their ideas to life. Groundbreaking is planned for mid-November, 2010, with an expected grand opening in Spring 2011.

"It's a complete prototyping lab," says Molly Morgan, the museum's director. "So you can come in with an idea scribbled on a napkin from the night before and you can leave with something tangible. We will have CAD equipment, a mill and lathe, a 3-D printer—you name it; we'll have it."

Morgan says the lab will house a classroom for equipment, safety and design training, and the lab will be open in the evenings to provide easy access for working residents and students. While residents will have to pay a membership fee, students will have access to the lab for free.

According to Morgan, labs like this one are a relatively new trend. The first lab of this kind opened a few years ago at MIT and there are only 45 such labs in the world, 16 of which are housed in the U.S. The Faulhaber Fab Lab at G.WIZ will be the only one in the Southeast.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Molly Morgan, G.WIZ The Science Museum

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