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YERKES OBSERVATORY
The University of Chicago
Image 1 Elementary student building art project at the original Fab Lab in east Boston.

Image 1 Students loading a project into a computer controlled milling machine at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Image 1 Laser cutting and engraving system for wood, plastic, fabric and stone.

Image 1 International Fab Lab conference held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory)

Yerkes Observatory is expanding its mission as an outreach and education center for science and technology. As part of this effort we are building a Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) at Yerkes. This facility will be open to students, educators and the general public.

Fab Lab: what is it?
Fab Lab was developed at MIT as a (build anything) vertically integrated teaching tool for students and adults. Since then Fab Labs have been created across the United States and around the World (see list below). Fab Labs are independent but communicate with each other online and in international conferences. Students begin by learning a simple CAD (computer aided design) program, then apply the CAD designs through the next steps in completing a project, which often includes manufacturing electronics and mechanical hardware. For more information look at the links below.

Creating a Fab Lab at Yerkes Observatory
We are just beginning to create a Fab Lab at Yerkes Observatory. Our pilot Fab Lab program at Yerkes will be an extension of our Yerkes Education Outreach, reaching High School students interested in science and/or engineering careers. We plan to install a Fab Lab in one of the engineering labs currently being used for the construction of the SOFIA HAWC instrument. HAWC will likely ship to NASA within the next 12 months and the lab will be under construction prior to the HAWC ship date.

Building our local Fab Lab community
We envision the Yerkes Fab Lab can become a general purpose learning resource for the communities surrounding the observatory. Experience at other Fab Labs shows that the facility can be useful and stimulating for students and adults interested in other endeavors including arts, design and business. We welcome and encourage Yerkes community members to engage with us as we plan ahead.

How much will Fab Lab cost?
We estimate the cost of the Yerkes Fab Lab equipment and installation to be approximately $100k; the cost of engineering staff and lab supplies would be an additional $75k per year. Our goal is to initially fund approximately $250k through fund raising and possibly contributions from a benefactor(s).

To Find out More