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Innovation & Job News

Mechanical innovation lab NextFab Studio goes electronic

At construction co-working space NextFab Studio, artists, hobbyists and inventors can work on anything they please, from building a home shelving unit to inventing a toy robot. The only thing they don't want to see is people standing around. So when the studio electronics lab got more spectators than workers, NextFab created a new addition to its class rotation. Enlisting the services of Drexel University co-op student Ryan Barnes as technical supervisor, NextFab's electrical course teaches the science behind electricity and rudimentary skills for building an LED circuit. The second level course teaches soldering and other early projects to turn the watchers into doers.

"From the get-go, NextFab has had an electronics lab and people would always walk by who knew next to nothing about electronics but you could just see them thinking "what could I do in here?" says Barnes.

Opened in January as an extension of the University City Science Center, NextFab offers Philadelphia's innovators, craftsmen and entrepreneurs a workshop complete with hand tools, 3D printers, computer controlled machine tools, software, and electronics workbenches all in a 3,600-sq-ft studio. Since its inception, it has become a popular spot for artists and craftsmen to create profitable home businesses. The classes are geared both towards practical skills and functional assistance, tailoring instruction to each worker's projects.

"Electronics is such a huge field that it is tough to teach everything that we need to know so the way this class is taught is definitely on a craft level," says Barnes. "We have a lot of artists that work here and this is a way to explain electronics and show how they can be used on different projects."

Source: Ryan Barnes, NextFab Studio
Writer: John Steele
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