Florida A&M University (FAMU) has joined a partnership with the Chevron Corporation and the Fab Foundation to create a digital fabrication lab at FAMU Development Research School (DRS) for the Tallahassee community.
Fab labs are designed to foster student innovation, learning and invention: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor and to invent. Fab labs, with their suite of digital fabrication tools and prototyping machines — including laser cutters, 3-D printers, vinyl cutters and milling machines — are inspiring young people across the United States, to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“Chevron is proud to expand our partnerships with the Fab Foundation and FAMU,” said Melissa Rosenblatt, Chevron social investment manager. “This partnership supports our overall $15 million racial equity initiative, and we believe that education is a critical pathway to achieving social equity and enabling human progress.
“The fab lab will also directly respond to the community’s desire to expose young people to the latest STEM tools and technology, sparking their curiosity and informing their future education and career pathways. Advancing social equity aligns with our core values and building a strong pipeline of diverse talent in in STEM isn’t a luxury, it is imperative to our business.”
FAMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maurice Edington, Ph.D., said the Chevron initiative is an investment in student success for generations to come.
“The fab lab allows students to study, design, interpret and implement their own creations. It’s a space that fosters critical thinking skills,” Edington said. “These students are our future engineers, scientists, designers, architects, artists and teachers.”
The Fab Foundation is a U.S. non-profit organization that emerged from the Massachusetts Institution of Technology’s Center for Bits & Atoms. Its mission is to provide access to the tools, the knowledge, and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything, and thereby creating opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods around the world. Since, 2014, the Fab Foundation has partnered with Chevron and launched fab labs across the U.S to support STEM education, said Sonya Pryor-Jones, Fab Foundation vice president, chief strategy officer.
“We are excited to continue this partnership and support Chevron’s HBCU Social Equity project. This new project will expand our work together with the intention to provide access to advanced technologies and create more equity in STEM,” Pryor Jones said. “We hope to complement the rich history and commitment of HBCUs to serve the educational needs of Black Americans and together accelerate opportunities for African American students in STEM and digital fabrication.”
The partnership between FAMU and Chevron dates back 11 years. The fab lab announcement comes as FAMU DRS is experiencing record enrollment for the first time in more than a decade and there’s a waiting list of students trying to get in.
“This is truly groundbreaking for our students at the College of Education and FAMU DRS. We are committed to our partnership in this holistic K-20 approach,” said FAMU DRS Superintendent Micheal Johnson. “This will level the field in STEM for all students and provide real application opportunities.”
College of Education Dean Allyson Watson, Ph.D., said the partnership will provide the impetus for a life-changing impact in the Tallahassee community.
“We are ecstatic to work collaboratively with Chevron to bring innovative solutions for children in our region and across the state. Our goal to promote STEM discovery, and ultimately STEM careers, is at the forefront of this project,” said Watson. “We see the Chevron FabLab Network as a unique opportunity to increase awareness, experiential learning and develop necessary skills that lead to overall achievement and STEM integration.”
Chevron-supported fab labs include facilities in: Bakersfield, Richmond and Santa Clara, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Houston and Odessa/Midland, Texas; and Washington, D.C. These labs have served more than 50,000 people so far.