Engineering Connections Between Art and Tech



Editor’s NoteThis is the last in a three-part series on the Suncoast Science Center, which hosts its first open house this weekend.

For Rob Demperio, the term inventor is not something he is quite ready to embrace. An accomplished artist and head lump at graphic design firm Lumpypixels, he has illustrated album covers, logos and photos galore, but even as he sits in the Faulhaber Fab Lab and programs designs for labels and other creations into a high-tech vinyl cutting application, he says plenty of other scientific minds could probably use the collection of equipment here to do something more exciting. “Other guys have computer savvy and electronic savvy. I’m not that person,” Demperio said, “but I would like to be.”

The Suncoast Science Center calls Demperio one of the “makers,” and when the Fab Lab was located at the now-defunct G.Wiz facility, a meet up group called Sarasota Makerspace grew up around the publicly accessible fabrication equipment there. According to Christine Lange, chief operating officer for the center, more than 180 makers living in Southwest Florida are still active with that group, and as the Fab Lab equipment turns back on, she expects to see more of them in the Beneva Road facility. An Open House will be held Saturday to show off the resources at the center.

Meeker hopes artists like Demperio connect with the scientific and engineering minds within the group to morph the world of design and development; maybe the next Apple could get it’s start in the lab. Demperio himself has his eye on 3D printer units and wants to work more technological minds to figure what projects could be done with these new toys. 

Alvin Rosenfeld, an electrical engineer volunteering with the center, said the resources could be important for raising the tech prowess in the region. “This area has a bundle of smart people,” he says. “We have a lot of PhDs here.” And whether those minds are connecting with young students who could be the engineers of tomorrow or with other artistic and technical minds who could developer revolutionary products for today, Lange is hopeful makers of all kinds thrive here.

Pictured: Graphic designer Rob Demperio programs designs into a vinyl-cutting application.

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