We briefly mentioned AMRoC’s new home in our recent post-ROBOTICON update, but we wanted to share a bit more about this exciting development.  FCDI made the decision to configure the Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics Center as a FabLab for several reasons, not the least of which is how well this model of creative fabrication facility fits the cultural spirit of  RD Management redevelopment plans.

FabLabs are by nature open, innovative, academia and business friendly and focused on collaboration and sharing. As per the Fab Foundation, ” The Fab Lab Network is an open, creative community of fabricators, artists, scientists, engineers, educators, students, amateurs, professionals, of all ages located in more than 78 countries in approximately 1,000 Fab Labs. From community based labs to advanced research centers, Fab Labs share the goal of democratizing access to the tools for technical invention. This community is simultaneously a manufacturing network, a distributed technical education campus, and a distributed research laboratory working to digitize fabrication, inventing the next generation of manufacturing and personal fabrication.”

The scope of that network and its mission and goals align well with FCDI efforts and the focus of University Mall redevelopment plans. The 100 acre Mall is slated to become a multi-story, urban neighborhood development showcasing life sciences and technology research, retail and recreational opportunities, education, corporate and co-working space and more, making it the perfect home for the AMRoC Fab Lab.

With nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of space to work with in the old sporting goods store we’re repurposing,  AMRoC has plenty of room and resources to develop robust programming to service youth and adults with skills development, creative enjoyment and capacity building opportunities year round.

In collaboration with the Mall, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, Code for Tampa Bay Brigade, PLuGHiTz Corporation and other fine corporate and academic partners,   the FabLab is intended to be an inclusive, accessible, enjoyable and affordable space for creative expression, fabrication and rapid prototyping, and product development – essentially a business and community center with tools and tech. The space will provide opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy everything from personal skills development to earning professional certifications and to develop needed workforce skills.

The AMRoC FabLab will also serve as a FIRST youth robotics hub for Tampa Bay and Central Florida, with the only permanent FIRST Robotics Competition field in the state, along with a FIRST Tech Challenge field, and FIRST LEGO League tables, resources and gear, providing a way for more youth to get involved in this life changing STEM program.

As part of the global FabLab community, AMRoC FabLab is committed to sharing an evolving inventory of core capabilities that will allow facility users the ability to make almost anything, in a collaborative and welcoming environment intended to benefit participants and the local community.

AMRoC FabLab is slated to open in the spring of 2019.  Follow along at the AMRoC FabLab website and related social media, and contact us if you’d like to get involved as a program partner, sponsor or donor.