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Top 10 Things to Know About Fab Lab ICC

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

I've always liked "Top 10" lists. It provides a way to summarize information in a condensed format; easy to read. Most people seem willing and able to endure a list of ten items if their interested in the overarching topic at all. 

I like to develop a Top 10 list for Fab Lab ICC from time to time. I believe the last time I used the format was for a presentation at the Independence Chamber's "First Friday" event in February, 2017. A lot has changed since then and I thought it would be good to present our current Top 10 list. While everything on the list is not "new," all ten remain relevant to those not familiar with who we are and what we do. 

We opened October 1, 2014; the first at a Kansas community college 

Nearly all the new equipment was purchased with a Kauffman Foundation grant and local matching donations. The initial space, formerly known as the Cessna Learning Center, was underutilized and the shop portion of the building used for assembly training was well suited for the initial maker space. 

Our mission is about improving the self-efficacy of all 

People of all ages and all walks of life experiencing our programs and services show increases in the special kind of self-confidence called self-efficacy. Higher self-efficacy increases higher skill in problem-solving, critical thinking and overall decision-making. 

The Fab Lab ICC mission supports the prime tenets of the ICC mission about academics, cultural enrichment and economic development 

Expansion building; concept to completion in two years 

 Starting with a letter by the Fab Lab ICC Director and Manager entitled "What We Would Do With $700,000" in March, 2016, plans, financing and construction of the 6,400 square foot expansion building have come to fruition in a little more than two years. Financing includes a $350,000 business development investment from the federal Economic Development Administration and matching funds from individuals, businesses and the college. 

At 15,000 square feet; largest maker space in markets our size 

We believe no other market with a population less than 50,000 has this much maker space. 

We offer public membership$125 annually for individuals 

There are memberships for students, although ICC students don't pay membership fees, families and corporations. 

We aspire to be a national leader in combining entrepreneurship with the Fab Lab experience 

We have tools and services for business growth not available to many small businesses, especially in rural communitiesWe are currently working with six inventors in various stages of product launch. Our first success, Tim Voegeli, dba Tubeless Solutions, came to us from Wichita before 3D printed prototypes were available there. Our Women 4 Women program (Kauffman Foundation supported) seeks to lower barriers to women getting into full or part time business. 

We've logged over 18,000 visits since we opened in late 2014 

This figure includes all who tour, work or meet in the facility. 

We believe that entrepreneurship provides the best hope for prosperity in the new economy 

We aspire to be a national leader in drastically changing work force training in small rural community colleges to help local industries more competitiveWe're launching a pilot called "Fab Force" this fall and will include introductory courses to a variety of technologies and entrepreneurial mindset. We believe every rural community in Kansas should have maker space and we host two boot camps per year for community leaders from around Kansas and the United States to show them how they might launch. 

We will provide Boot and STEM camp services for up to 200 youth this summer 

This includes weekly boot camps in collaboration with Greenbush education cooperative and a 3-week long STEM camp for 100 middle school girls thanks to a grant from the Verizon Foundationone of just 16 such camps conducted in the US this summer. 

Owned by the college, run like a business 

We use generated revenue to provide budget relief to the collegeOther than salaries, space and utilities (substantial support by the college) we generate our own revenue through memberships, material sales and grants for all our supplies, repairs and new equipment purchases.  

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349, by email at or Twitter @jimcorrellks.

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