Return of the Fab
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the Suncoast Science Center, which hosts its first open house this weekend.
When the news broke that regional science center G. Wiz was shutting its doors for good, that also brought bad news for a sizable contingent of regulars at Faulhaber Fab Lab. In the two years since, area inventors, artists and other creative gear heads sat anxiously awaiting the return of a venue to do work. But the wait is almost over, and a reborn Faulhaber Fab Lab is hosting an open house this weekend on Beneva Road. “Now it is just getting the parties together again,” said Eric McGrath, the Suncoast Science Center staffer in charge of the lab.
Staff for the center has been hard at work this week in the organization’s new home; the Suncoast Science Center just last weekend got its certificate of occupancy on the new space, located next to The Florida House and near both Suncoast Polytechnical High and Suncoast Technical College. For the uninitiated, the Fab Lab, affiliated with MIT, is a digital fabrication facility for both kids and adults to inspire innovation, invention and mentoring primarily through the physical sciences of computer, electrical and mechanical engineering. In a short tour of the facility, Suncoast Science Center Chief Operating Officer Christine Lange points toward some familiar equipment, including a laser vinyl cutter and a lathe, then to new toys like a 3D printer capable of making figurines and models based on computer renderings. For the open house, Lange hopes to have a dozen locations set up with Fab Lab frequenters showing off the ware made possible with Fab Lab technology.
Executive Director Ping Faulhaber, who along with husband and president Fritz Faulhaber made the donations to bring the original and new Fab Labs to life, said the facility will make important connections between both the business community and a rising student body interested in science and engineering. McGrath said previous Fab Lab users so far have been the primary visitors to the new facility and the ones to reach out to help the upstart effort.
Pictured: A figurine created using a new #D printer at the Faulhaber Fab Lab.