Fab Labs: Re-envisioning Innovation and “Entrepreneering”
Abstract: Can Fab Labs provide the impetus for systemic change in education and entrepreneurial environments? Fab Labs, small-scale workshops using off-the-shelf, industrial-grade technologies, are being used to bring prototyping capabilities to underserved communities around the world. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses Fab Labs and information technologies to enable individuals to define problems, prototype solutions, and encourage the start of local micro businesses (Lassiter, 2009). The Fab Lab concept may reflect a new manufacturing paradigm where individual “entrepreneers” (individuals who perform both engineering and entrepreneurial tasks) define problems, create solutions, and market products. A community workspace is created that serves as an incubator for research, creative endeavors, and business incubation. The Fab Lab removes barriers such as start-up funding, access to equipment, and access to expertise, thus encouraging systemic change to educational and entrepreneurial environments. Speculation on a process for developing a Fab Lab that is based on the Midwest Fab Lab Network’s eleven step model is detailed and followed by a brief discussion of findings to date.
Keywords: Innovation - Higher Education Brief