Originally published in Compass, March 13, 2014
Haystack expands digital fabrication training, connects MIT with local educators
After Haystack established a fab lab on its campus in 2011, the studio became available to participants in Haystack’s summer programs—as a way for them to experiment with new technologies and augment their studio practices. Fab labs, which are an international network of small-scale digital fabrication facilities, use computers to control precision equipment such as CNC (computer numerically controlled) routers, laser cutters, milling machines, 3-D printers, and vinyl sign cutters. In addition to connecting with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the fab lab connects with an international network of 100 similar fab labs (in the U.S., Afghanistan, Iceland, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Spain, and elsewhere).
Recognizing the fab lab would be a resource for the community, Haystack began to expand by developing digital fabrication training sessions for local students and educators. The school has received grants from a number of sources supporting these efforts, Haystack announced in a news release.
For the past two years, Haystack has been offering training sessions for students and educators from the arts and industrial arts programs at the Deer Isle-Stonington High School and Elementary School, and Blue Hill Consolidated School. These sessions are led by two technicians from the Rhode Island School of Design and AS220—a Rhode Island-based arts organization that has a fab lab in place.
In 2012 Haystack received funding from an anonymous foundation to support additional initiatives through the Haystack fab lab—digital fabrication training for area students and educators and also training for local educators and Haystack staff to earn a diploma through Fab Academy, a program through MIT’s Media Lab.
Thanks to the grant, which provided $25,000 for both 2013 and 2014, Haystack was able to begin the Fab Academy component this year, allowing participants from the Island and Blue Hill Peninsula community to take the course for free and
have unlimited access to the Haystack fab lab.
Area residents participating in this year’s distance-learning course include: Markus Ford, technology coordinator for the Deer Isle-Stonington schools; Mickie Flores, science teacher at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School; Matt Jurick, technology coordinator for the Blue Hill Consolidated School; Jonathan Doolan, Haystack’s studio technician; and auditing the course is Hannah Barrows, Haystack’s community programs coordinator.