Dripping Springs High School this month learned that it has received the designation as a “Fab Lab” location.
The Fab Lab concept began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, eventually becoming an independent organization. Fab Labs are part of an international movement to make fabrication equipment available to members of a broader community.
In order to earn the “Fab Lab” designation, a location must fulfill core capabilities and make an effort in the area of community outreach. Dripping Springs High School applied for the designation based on equipment already in use in the technology, engineering and robotics classroom including a plasma cutter, laser engraver, CAD design software, and 3-D printer.
DSHS is the only high school in Texas that has completed the process for Fab Lab. Engineering and robotics students have started some outreach activities, within the school district and community.
There are plans for all DSISD students to have opportunities to use Fab Lab resources, not just those taking courses in these areas. Some students already are working on independent projects, including the development of a mechanism to harness solar energy as a power source for a vehicle. Robotics students will be teaching a class at the community library, and DSHS is reaching out to local tech-related businesses to develop partnerships that potentially could lead to anything from equipment donations to internships.
Many aspects of the DSHS engineering and robotics program have real-world applications for students. For instance, opportunities have been developed for students to receive certification in areas such as Computer-Aided Design. Leadership skills also are being cultivated, as teacher Jad Jadeja is training his students to be qualified to help other students operate the equipment in the lab.
“It is my dream to have the lab opened up to the public and have our students lead what is happening here,” said Jadeja. “When students are teaching skills to others, they are learning in the process, and we have many community members who have valuable expertise in different fields as well.”
The Dripping Springs Fab Lab will continue to expand opportunities to connect with members of the community.