Wannabe-scientist Flint Lockwood lives in Swallow Falls, an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean whose economy is based entirely on sardines. After unsuccessfully inventing spray-on shoes, a remote-controlled television and rat-birds, Flint creates the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator,” or FLDSMDFR for short. This machine transforms water molecules into food: anything that you may desire.
Okay, so this may be describing a fictional movie based on a popular children’s book, but Terry Byers, Professor and head of the FabLab at Rose State College, can foresee this becoming reality. Byers has been with Rose State College for 14 years now. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Kent State University in Ohio, Terry received his graduate degree in St. Louis at Webster University. After spending 27 years in the Air Force working on and flying AWACS planes, Terry’s love for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education took him to Rose State College and to the FabLab to share his passion with others.
The Digital Fabrication Laboratory, also known as the FabLab, is a facility located on the south entrance of the Rose State campus in the Human and Environmental Sciences building. This laboratory serves inventors, entrepreneurs, tinkerers and anyone looking to turn ideas into reality, from small business owners within the community to local elementary schools, to any student on campus regardless of his or her major. Have an idea and need to make a prototype? Utilize the 3D printing available in the FabLab. Need to create a sample of a shirt you want to print? Mock it up and screen print your shirt before taking it to production. Want to laser engrave, vinyl cut, cast or mold anything you can think of? Byers says, “Anything you can imagine, we can work collaboratively to build in the FabLab.” The FabLab at Rose State College has many resources available to everyone to help make the ideas of their imagination come to life.
Though we may not be able to turn water molecules into food just yet, Terry Byers can already see the advancements taking place within STEM to help bring make that concept a reality. “Digital fabrication is the future. The way production has changed and will change. The way we create, grow and cook food is changing. The way homes are built is changing as well as incredible advancements in the medicine field.” 3D bionic ears have already been printed using silicone and cells as ink, as have human kidneys. With the kind of technology available in FabLabs around the world, some of the world’s crises could be slowed or even solved in the future. Those waiting on organs could receive a printed organ, those in need of a home could receive a low-cost, efficient housing... printed. And food shortages around the world may no longer pose a problem with the advances in STEM. Dormitories are now being customized using 3D printing and similar to what took place in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the Foodini is the closest we are to the Flint Lockwood’s Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator to date. At Rose State College, Terry Byers has had the pleasure to work with students from local elementary schools to show children what’s available to them now in their hometown. Fifth graders from Barnes Elementary came in Thursday, November 23 and were given the opportunity to print gliders on the laser printer and then pieced them together to learn about aerodynamics and how those gliders take flight. Encouraging students at a young age to look towards STEM education paths has been quite rewarding for Byers. He has also helped students seeking their PhDs, small businesses working toward their goals of large-batch production, and is constantly on the go speaking to groups of students, large and small around the state of Oklahoma about STEM, digital fabrication and the opportunities at Rose State College. Byers and the FabLab team are available to anyone who wants to learn more about digital fabrication.
To learn more about the FabLab and how it can help you, contact Terry Byers at 405.733.7573, email at email@example.com or schedule a personal or group tour by calling 405.733.7392.
Thanks to digital printing, mountains made of jello may be reality before we know it!