Vt Fab Lab inspires future engineers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt Fab Lab inspires future engineers

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Right now, a robot known as the lobster is being controlled by the directional arrows on a laptop computer, but one day, it might be able to think on its own. This is the kind of technology high school kids are getting hands-on experience with at the Vermont Fabrication Laboratory-- or its scientific name-- The Fab Lab.

"There is success; very good levels early on. That drives them and gets them excited," said Michael Fortney, a UVM research engineer.

Fortney has helped these students develop prototypes for lifesaving technology over the last four weeks.

This is the first year UVM has been able to offer programming like this, as the Fab Lab came to fruition just this spring. University funding, donations and IBM contributions are providing high-end equipment like a laser cutter.

"I walk in to this room and I see this 3d printer and I was like oh my god! I called my friends and told them I am using a 3-D printer and laser cutter. I made it my Facebook status," said Eleanor Myers, 17.

Myers came up from Providence, R.I., for this program. She says the technology they are working with is not usually accessible to high school kids, but it is exactly what keeps kids like her interested in engineering.

"We have all done programming, we have all done designing everything, essentially; soldering. It's coming along well. Right now they are programming it to steer," Myers said.

The skills they are developing serve as more than bragging rights, this is career-building course work in an economy being driven by math and science.

"There is a lot of awareness I think in this high school age group of the economy, of the turbulence of careers and the idea that they want to have jobs," said Robin Gronlund of UVM Continuing Education.

Both the lobster and a scorpion robot were designed on computers, and then etched out of plastic in the laser cutter and electronically engineered to detect infrared heart rates. The design will allow them to enter collapsed buildings and find survivors.

"As people we emit infrared senses. If we could make a machine that could find our pulse from a distance and save us from a burning building, these could save lives," Myers said.

The students will put on the final touches before testing the robot's agility and abilities in a mock building collapse-- a first-of-its-kind experiment in the lab.

"Engineering is the purpose to solve problems for humanity," Fortney said.

This program is not your typical summer camp. These kids will leave the program with three college credits they can transfer in to any school in Vermont.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Snowmobile season officially ends

    Snowmobile season officially ends

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:08 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:08:12 GMT
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
  • A big honor for a Burlington teen

    A big honor for a Burlington teen

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:06 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:06:26 GMT
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today. Judges called him extraordinary for his age, articulate,More >>
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today.More >>
  • Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:04 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:04:54 GMT
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
  • Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 04:07:42 GMT
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow. Rivers are spilling their banks, roadsMore >>
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow.More >>
  • Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:07:35 GMT
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
  • Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 00:08:37 GMT
    Flood warnings are in effect around our region as heavy rains begin to move through. There is already localized flooding at some of the typical problem spots, like the wrong-way bridge on Route 15 inMore >>
    Parts of our region are already flooding and others are bracing as heavy rains move through. Not only is rain falling fast, but warm temperatures Monday melted snow, adding to high waters.More >>
  • Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:06:00 GMT
    A man had to be pulled from the Black River in Springfield Tuesday morning. The Hartford Fire Department says it's working to pull a man out from the river. They say he got stuck about 75 feet out inMore >>
    Vermont emergency workers have rescued a man stranded in the middle of a treacherous section of river in downtown Springfield.
    More >>
  • NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:49:26 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.