10 Out of 10 for Fab Lab Opening in Houston
Chevron and its partners, the Fab Foundation and BakerRipley, recently celebrated the grand opening of its tenth fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab). Located at the BakerRipley East Aldine Campus in Houston, the Chevron-supported facility has been in planning for two years and will serve as a technical resource for K-12 students, university students and the entire community.
Fab Labs are for 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).
The Fab Lab will promote innovation and design in the community and aims to build local workforce capacity; it includes a mobile Fab Lab outfitted with much of the same equipment as the stationary lab, increasing accessibility to other Houston communities.
“When working closely with East Aldine residents and leaders, we learned of their desire to use their talents and skills to create businesses and ideas,” said BakerRipley President and CEO Claudia Aguirre. “Fab Lab Houston is working to train entrepreneurs on equipment and processes to make almost anything. The goal is to help our neighbors of all ages develop skills that will help them to compete in the global marketplace”
BakerRipley, formerly known as Neighborhood Centers, has been working with families in the Houston area for 111 years. When Alice Graham Baker founded the agency in 1907, the main intention was to improve health, education and employment opportunities for Houstonians.
In 2014, when BakerRipley was invited to the community of East Aldine, it wasn’t initially to establish a Fab Lab. The goal was to discover the strengths of East Aldine residents, learn about their aspirations and partner with community leaders and residents to craft a collective vision and design a plan to bring it to fruition. The residents expressed a strong desire to encourage young people to the latest STEM tools and technology.
Around the same time BakerRipley was engaging East Aldine residents, Chevron announced a $10 million partnership with the Fab Foundation to bring the latter’s Fab Labs to areas where Chevron operates across the United States. The Fab Foundation is a US non-profit organization that provides access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication.
BakerRipley’s way of working – focusing on finding strengths and understand what is working to build upon – aligned perfectly with Chevron's Fab Lab program and goal to build centers in locations where it operates.
“The Fab Lab Houston will 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, said General Manager of Policy, Government and Public Affairs for Chevron North America Exploration and Production, Linda Padon. “Fab Lab Houston will introduce the next generation of students and workers to high-tech fabrication and other STEM education and career opportunities through hands-on projects, exploration and mentorship.”
The Chevron-supported Fab Labs include: Grindstone and Waynesburg, Pennsylvania; others in Washington, D.C.; Bakersfield, Richmond and Santa Clara, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston and Odessa/Midland, Texas; and Pascagoula, Mississippi. These labs have served more than 50,000 people so far.