A maker space on wheels rolls out in the form of a Fab Cab this school year from Lorain County Community College.
The Fab Cab is a mobile Fab Lab destined for Scout meetings, libraries, civic groups and school clubs throughout Lorain County, said Tracy Green, vice president of strategic and institutional development at LCCC at 1005 N. Abbe Road in Elyria.
The Fab Cab is one of many innovations introduced this month as LCCC continues a tradition of introducing locally cutting edge trends academically.
School starts Aug. 28 at LCCC, Green said, adding the crew enjoyed a great Jack Nicklaus golf outing Aug. 14 to raise money for scholarships.
Cindy Kushner, director of marketing and outreach initiatives at LCCC, said she is excited about the opportunity to talk about the first bachelor’s degree at the community college.
The Bachelor’s of Microelectronic Manufacturing meets a need of companies in Northeastern Ohio, Kushner said.
“And right now we have a wonderful associate’s degree we’re recruiting students into,” Green said.
The education stream follows a “learn and earn” model, Kushner said, with a student in class a couple of days a week, and working for an employer in the field and applying what they learned a few days a week.
“It’s very well received by students and employers,” she said.
The college is working with about 20 different companies across the region, such as Synapse Biomedical in Oberlin and Core Technology in Avon, Green said.
“It involves engineering technology jobs,” she said. “They’re working with companies that are making their products what we call, ‘smart.’
“So they’re embedding sensors. There are many, many sensors like what is in that phone. They’re taking those same types of sensors and they’re putting them into new products that can communicate and provide data outside of them.”
Examples are medical devices, workout equipment or athletic gear, Kushner said.
“It’s across the board,” she said. “It’s really everything.”
It’s a pretty significant movement, Green said.
“Now they have sensors embedded in running shoes so you can tell when you should be changing your shoes,” she said. “It will look at any type of wear and tear on the shoe and the stability of the insole, everything is becoming customized and providing data to the consumer so they can make decisions about when they should buy a new pair of shoes.”
“I used to be excited when they would light up,” Kushner said.
“Now they’re talking to our iPhones,” Green said.
The available labs limit starting the class to 12 students a semester for this stream.
Green said when she started her career, she had no idea it would lead to preparing students for these and similar innovations.
“Every day I wonder, ‘What’s going to happen new today?’” she asked. “Everything is different every day.
“You can’t even describe careers now because you have to be able to work across many different areas.”
So, LCCC built a new Campana Center for Ideation and Invention on the south edge of campus, with more new developments to add soon.
“Talking about cutting edge and innovation,” Green said. “When you’re talking about a career, sometimes it’s not working for someone else; it’s working for yourself and creating an entrepreneurial path. We have expanded our Fab Lab significantly. So someone can take that idea and turn it into a product and then get support working with our entrepreneurship program to be able to turn that product into a business.”
That’s what LCCC is excited about, Green said.
“Particularly as you talk about the next generation, we see that movement of folks who prefer to be their own boss, to be an entrepreneur themselves and to grow their own company,” she said. “It’s the ability to give them the tools and the resources to do that.
“Within that building, you can come in and you can design a new product on the computer. Using software you can view it in 3-D form in virtual reality, then go from that concept to a printed part using additive manufacturing and be able to hold that product in a matter of hours.”
Tech savvy can happen any time, but often starts young.
Kushner said she works a lot with students from kindergarten through grade 12.
She said she envisions a grandparent bringing a grandchild to the college to work on a project together.
“We have some very exciting programming for K-12 students that is going to inspire that entrepreneurial spirit in that world of making,” Kushner said.
Soon, the college will take the Fab Lab on the road through the Fab Cab, Green said.
“We can take that to a classroom, to a Girl Scout meeting, community libraries and have that experience out in the community and hopefully, have them come in and use the Campana Center,” Kushner said.
It fits inside a van, Green said, so it’s portable.
“On the partnership side, I’m really excited about the Master’s of Business Administration, the MBA,” Kushner said. “It’s with Lake Erie College. We have a good group — I think there’s room for a couple more — we have a nice group starting this fall on their Parker MBA through Lake Erie College in the Painesville area. They are just wonderful.”
And a new associate degree of Applied Science in Cyber and Information Security will enable students to prevent breeches in Internet access, and viruses, Green said.
For example, they would learn how hackers steal credit card information, and how to prevent hacker access, she said.
Not a new development for LCCC but possibly new information for Lorain residents, Kushner said, are two LCCC learning centers in Lorain.
One learning center is across from Lorain City Hall at 201 W. Erie Ave.
The other center is at Lorain High School at 2600 Ashland Ave.
“There’s confusion at the Lorain High School site,” Kushner said. “It’s for the community, not just for the high school.”
People in neighborhoods around Lorain High are welcome to take college classes there, she said, adding there are college programs designed for high school students that are not open to the general public.
Those are separate programs.
About 35 percent of high school seniors in Lorain County are graduating with some LCCC college credits, Kushner said, adding that’s “substantially higher than the rest of the state.”
“One other really cool thing is our support of veterans,” Green said. “We’re recognizing their knowledge and skills as they come back to civilian life.”
Veterans can access a fast track to civilian careers as paramedics, EMTs, technicians or other areas.
“They have already had a lot of that training,” Green said. “How do we help them translate that into a civilian career?”
Recently, LCCC released a new season schedule for the Stocker Arts Center, Green said.
“While we focus on students, we also know we are the community’s college,” she said.