As part of his initiative to increase interest in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM), Congressman Bill Foster (D-11) visited Joliet Junior College on Monday, Aug. 12 to launch the Fab Lab, a state-of-the-art fabrication laboratory where children and adults can invent, design and manufacture a prototype of nearly any kind of product they can imagine.
The Fab Lab, which was open to the public for three days on the JJC Main Campus, was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Bits and Atoms. It features rapid prototyping technology such as 3-D printers that allows the user to design and develop a prototype of anything from a keychain to a robot.
At the kickoff event Monday morning, JJC President Dr. Deb Daniels said that the college was pleased to partner with the Congressman on his initiatives to promote STEM.
“When we were asked to host the Fab Lab at Joliet Junior College, we didn’t have to think twice,” she said. ”JJC is a resource to our community in many ways, so we’re pleased to provide this exciting learning opportunity for not only our students but all community members as well.”
Foster said that the Fab Lab helps children see the application of math and science, encouraging innovation that could lead to developments like replacement human body parts, and that he believes it’s critical to provide the next generation with the skills to succeed in engineering and manufacturing.
“We need to get our children prepared for a global, 21st century job market,” he said.
Other speakers from the community included Jim Murphy from the City of Joliet on behalf of Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante; Pastor AJ Jones, Senior Pastor at City of Hope Covenant Church; Rodney Tonelli, President of Ruettiger, Tonelli, and Associates on behalf of John Greuling and Will County CED; and Larry Walsh, Will County Executive who all expressed their support of Foster‘s efforts to promote education and innovation in the area.
JJC physics professor Dr. Bill Hogan visited the Fab Lab with his children, who he said were willing to stay for a couple of hours to use the 3-D printer since they found it so fascinating.
“The Fab Lab is an opportunity to show the public some of what can be done with exciting new technologies such as 3-D printing,” said Hogan. “These technologies are becoming more and more common and affordable and soon will be part of everyday life.”
In March, Congressman Foster introduced the National Fab Lab Network Act of 2013 to promote advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. The legislation, which has received bipartisan support, would create a nonprofit entity to establish a National Fab Lab network throughout the United States. This chartered status would be similar to the status enjoyed by the VFW and Little League Baseball.
For more information about the Fab Lab Act, visit http://foster.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-foster-introduces-bipartisan-legislation-to-promote-advanced