Duke Energy Foundation Aids in Creation of Fabrication Laboratory

Green Mountain College recently received a grant of $15,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation for the College's renewable energy and ecological design (REED) Program’s development of a digital fabrication laboratory called FabLab. The objective of the REED FabLab is to provide GMC students, local high school students and adults with the infrastructure to acquire skills using digital fabrication technologies.

The REED FabLab, located adjacent to the REED program’s shop in downtown Poultney, will provide individuals the opportunity to translate digital information into material products. Trained users will use the lab to fabricate models, test prototypes, and explore small-scale manufacturing processes. It will also support the expansion of GMC’s REED program that was previously offered as a certificate program at the College. In January 2012, GMC’s board of trustees approved the creation of a new major, a B.A. in renewable energy and ecological design.

One of the newly acquired pieces of equipment for the REED FabLab is a computer numerically controlled (CNC) router. It can cut, carve and engrave a variety of materials with pinpoint accuracy.

REED program director Lucas Brown explains “The CNC router is a very versatile tool. It is used in numerous ways including model building, furniture and product design, and architectural fabrications. The new machine will help prepare students for the contemporary workplace. We offer students opportunities to affect change through hands-on courses. The REED FabLab, in conjunction with the more traditional set of tools, will provide them with a diverse skill-set, both analog and digital.”

Brown said “The CNC router expands design opportunities by allowing students to create complex parts that would be cost and time prohibitive to execute by hand.”

The development of the REED FabLab builds on two community-focused GMC Farm and Food Program initiatives supported by the Duke Energy Foundation: the transformation of the College’s Solar Harvest Center’s (SHC) residential kitchen into a commercially-certified kitchen, as well as installation at the SHC of an edible garden and the renovation of its front porch into an educational venue. Additionally the REED FabLab will build on other College initiatives to help restore the vitality of Poultney. These initiatives include renovation of an historic home into a community meeting building; establishment of a food co-op (Stone Valley Market); and improvements to the Solar Harvest Center for student and community use.

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