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Florida A&M University has announced a new partnership with Chevron Corporation and the Fab Foundation to create a digital fabrication laboratory at the FAMU Development Research School. Fab labs have digital fabrication tools, laser cutters, 3-D printers, vinyl cutters, and milling machines to inspire young people to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

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“Chevron is proud to expand our partnerships with the Fab Foundation and FAMU,” said Melissa Rosenblatt, Chevron social investment manager, in a news release. “The fab lab will also directly respond to the community’s desire to expose young people to the latest STEM tools and technology, sparking their curiosity and informing their future education and career pathways.”

FAMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maurice Edington, Ph.D., said the Chevron initiative is an investment for generations to come.

“The fab lab allows students to study, design, interpret and implement their own creations. It’s a space that fosters critical thinking skills,” Edington said. “These students are our future engineers, scientists, designers, architects, artists, and teachers.”

The Fab Foundation is a non-profit organization that emerged from the Massachusetts Institution of Technology’s Center for Bits & Atoms. Its mission is to provide access to the tools, the knowledge, and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything. Since, 2014, the Fab Foundation has partnered with Chevron to launch fab labs across the U.S to support STEM education.

“We are excited to continue this partnership and support Chevron’s HBCU Social Equity project. This new project will expand our work together with the intention to provide access to advanced technologies and create more equity in STEM,” said Sonya Pryor Jones, Fab Foundation vice president, and chief strategy officer. “We hope to complement the rich history and commitment of HBCUs to serve the educational needs of Black Americans and together accelerate opportunities for African American students in STEM and digital fabrication.”

The fab lab announcement comes as FAMU DRS is experiencing record enrollment for the first time in more than a decade and there’s a waiting list of students trying to get in.

“This is truly groundbreaking for our students at the College of Education and FAMU DRS,” said FAMU DRS Superintendent Micheal Johnson. “This will level the field in STEM for all students and provide real application opportunities.” College of Education Dean Allyson Watson, Ph.D., said the goal to promote STEM discovery, and ultimately STEM careers, is at the forefront of this project.

According to FAMU, Chevron-supported fab labs include facilities in Bakersfield, Richmond, and Santa Clara, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Houston and Odessa/Midland, Texas; and Washington, D.C. These labs have served more than 50,000 people so far.

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