Science, technology and engineering labs, also known as maker spaces, are a growing trend in education. But not every school has one. Then Rhode Island’s Mobile Maker Lab rolls up.
Pulled by a pickup truck, the 28-foot trailer comes outfitted with projects and technology, such as routers and 3-D printers.
The IYRS School of Technology and Trades in Newport helped develop the lab.
"It needs to be flexible and nimble, just like the technology itself," Terry Nathan, IYRS president, told RIPR. "It’s all about being able to conceive a design and then build something."
The idea is to give more students and job seekers the chance to experiment with the tools of today's manufacturing and design professions. The Mobile Maker Lab visited several schools and job fairs last year during a pilot program, but Nathan says it's now ready for prime-time. He hopes to reach students at as many as 50 high schools over the course of the next year.
The lab comes equipped with projects and can serve about a dozen students at a time, or more.
"The technology and the work areas inside the trailer can either be used in the trailer or taken out of the trailer and setup on a bigger footprint like say a gymnasium floor," Nathan explained.
Nathan describes the Mobile Maker Lab as part of a larger effort to re-develop the state’s workforce. IYRS worked with Rhode Island College, the state Commerce Corporation and the manufacturing nonprofit Polaris on the project.