The Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab is an open and collaborative workshop space for computer-driven innovation, design and fabrication. Fab Lab enables makers of all kinds to imagine, design and create using open source software and DIY equipment. Fab Lab does this by working with a local and international network to actively cultivate public engagement through community-focused art, entrepreneurship, research and education.
Fab Lab is short for Fabrication Laboratory. They are a specific kind of Makerspace.
Culturally, the CUC Fab Lab is driven by a community of practice, people often referred to as Makers. Open-Source Movement Makers like us are are united by the desire to share knowledge, collaborate and to “make almost anything.” The lab is open to the public, employs both staff and volunteers and greatly values both diversity and play, as they believe these are necessary for innovation. Their network and patrons include people of all kinds: students, teens, families, entrepreneurs, artists, hobbyists, gamers, hackers, engineers, scientists, teachers, librarians, activists and more. Fab Lab welcomes those interested to join the conversation and discover more!
Functionally, Fab Labs encourage people to become makers by exploring the entire design process. They do this by providing tools, human assistance and inspiration that enable people to go from (1) concepts and questions to (2) digital designs and models to (3) physical prototypes and redesigns to (4) a final product they can share, which may in turn help others begin the cycle. This process is rather unique because it is possible for people with little technological expertise to engage in design thinking to develop complex creations using technology and knowledge previously only available to expert artists and engineers. The CUC Fab Lab specializes in working with individuals, groups and organizations to provide makerspace curriculum and related programming.
Organizationally, Fab Lab is a public engagement program of the Illinois Informatics Institute. They work with a variety of units, including The Graduate School of Library and Information Science,Department of Business Administration, School of Art and Design and Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences to collaborate on grants, facilitate classes and support research. Although many places might be referred to as a fab lab, the CUC Fab Lab is part of the global network connected to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Bits and Atoms. This collaborative network connects institutions around the world with common tools, software platforms and ideologies to facilitate the open exchange of ideas and designs.
Philosophically, CUC Fab Lab believes the open source ethos of the Fab Lab inspires interest and innovation in many fields. They strive to connect computer-based making and rapid fabrication to many areas, like art and design, computer science, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and technical trades. They think community access, provided at a reasonable cost and in cooperation with the global Fab Lab network, builds local capacities by enabling personal growth, economic development and cross-cultural understanding. Activities at the Fab Lab and their partner sites embody the principle of life-long learning by cultivating digital literacies, including cognitive skills like computational, divergent or critical thinking, but also related cultural competencies and other underlying traits that prove fundamental to holistic learning, such as civic engagement or confidence with art and technology.
Visit the Fab Lab Location & Hours webpage for current General Open Sessions and Special Event Session times.
The Fab Lab may observe for the following holidays