North Carolina Central University, a HBCU located in Durham, NC, introduced its new FabLab to the Board of Visitors on Thursday, Nov 20, 2014. A new sign, designed by University Architect Tim McCullen and fabricated by on a ShopBot by Sallye Coyle, greeted the Board as they came down the hall of the Mary M. Townes Science building on the NCCU Campus.
The weeks before the visit were a flurry of activity. Dr. Faye Calhoun coordinated a team of students, faculty, administration, facility and maintenance personnel, and volunteers from the community in the effort to convert a computer classroom into the FabLab. A new floor was laid, cabinets and desks installed, walls were painted. In the final week, facilities personnel hung the sign and installed a wall to separate the area with the digital fabrication equipment from the design and conference area. Students unpacked boxes, set up computers, and got familiar with the 3D printer, 3D scanner, ShopBot Desktop CNC, Epilog laser, Roland vinyl cutter and embroidery sewing machine.
On the day before the visit, Dr. Calhoun worked with Dean Carl Wilson and Professor Alade O Tokuta to prepare a brief introduction to the Board. Students set up demos to demonstrate Makey, Makey circuits and started 3D printers. During the visit, the Visitors could watch while the Desktop machined medallions with the NCCU eagle mascot, and take smaller medallions engraved and cut out on a laser. If the questions asked and the smiles observed were any indication, the visit was a great success. Then, all too soon, Chancellor Debra Saunders-White whisked the BOV off to visit the Law School.
And now the real work begins. Although the FabLab is housed in the Department of Math and Physics, it is open to the entire NCCU community. Students are being trained as “gurus” to help those with an idea turn it into reality using the digital fabrication equipment housed in the Lab. Fashion Design or Physics, Art or Math…all are welcome.