Expanding innovation in Tulsa

This partnership will expand our STEM programs.
In an important move for the Tulsa community, The University of Tulsa bolstered its commitment to innovation by officially acquiring Fab Lab Tulsa, a digital fabrication center and nonprofit organization situated in the historic Kendall Whittier neighborhood. The partnership, announced Jan. 2, marks a significant step in TU’s ongoing efforts to promote innovation and align with its global reputation in engineering, computer science and the creative arts.

Fab Lab Tulsa has been serving the community for 14 years, offering access to digital fabrication tools and resources such as the Metal Lab which offers injection molding, drill press and a CNC plasma cutter. The Wood Lab has bandsaws, disc sanders and a ShopBot available for use. The Fab Lab also has a studio with 3D printers and laser engravers. Originally founded and still being directed by Nathan Pritchett, the Lab has been a vital force in delivering educational programs focused on innovation and problem solving in the Tulsa community.

The University of Tulsa already has similar spaces across campus in McElroy Lab and the Project Lab in Stephenson Hall. These departments do have many of the machines and tools needed to facilitate a makerspace but they are not open to the public in the same manner. Creative freedom is more important to those working at Fab Lab Tulsa and it shows.

Paige Wibbenmeyer, a Tulsa Service Fellow with Fab Lab Tulsa voiced her opinion on the partnership, “I think TU being affiliated with Fab Lab will bring more opportunities to students in the digital fabrication world. I’ve learned how to use so many different machines from 3D printers to CO2 laser cutters, things I would have never learned without Fab Lab Tulsa.”

TU Students have previously had the opportunity to take classes on campus with concurrent lab sessions at Fab Lab Tulsa, working on projects throughout the semester and learning valuable skills with industry level machinery. With the new partnership, many students hope there will be more opportunities for hands-on learning and facilitating side projects, as the unique location allows for engineering classes so close to campus.

When asked about her time at Fab Lab Tulsa working in a group for the engineering class Design Academy, Junior Mechanical Engineering major Sofia Carreno stated, “I now know a lot more about tools and different ways to use them” and expressed excitement for the burgeoning relationship with Fab Lab Tulsa and The University of Tulsa. “I loved working in that space and I can’t wait to see what TU does with it.”

The growth of The University of Tulsa ecosystem has skyrocketed in the last year with the purchase of AHHA (Hardesty Arts Center), co-ownership of Gilcrease Museum, and now the acquisition of Fab Lab Tulsa. This specific procurement aligns with TU’s goals as the location allows for easy access by students and Tulsa residents , and works well with its True Blue Neighbors’ community outreach program. Additionally, TU’s current focus into STEM fields makes this partnership all the more important.

The University of Tulsa’s acquisition of Fab Lab Tulsa signifies not only a union of vital educational resources but a commitment to fostering innovation, community engagement and economic development. Now entwined, the Tulsa community looks forward to witnessing the outcomes of this collaboration.

To learn more about the offerings at Fab Lab Tulsa and view their extensive list of classes and machines, visit their website at: fablabtulsa.org.

Post Author: Grant Doolin