DDHS 'Fab Lab' to host open house

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DELAVAN — Students and staff are ready to show of Delavan-Darien High School's new Comet Creations Fab Lab with an open house from 4-7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 15.

The new lab space in the technology and engineering wing of the high school at 150 Cummings St. in Delavan, opened at the start of the new year.

Students now have access to 3-D printers, laser engravers, vinyl cutters and more, and they will demonstrate some of the equipment for open house attendees.

There will also be a demonstration of a CNC milling machine, a piece of equipment that technology education teacher Mike Fellin hopes to add soon.

He's also hoping to add a CNC router and CNC plasma cutter to expand the lab's capabilities even further.

“I'm excited that we've got the kids into the lab already and they are learning and producing,” Fellin said. “We're still looking for a way to finalize our machine needs. Right now, the lab is about 75 percent capacity. Hopefully, with the open house, we'll help influence some people to help us out. I'd say another $30,000 and we'd have everything we need.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available.  The lab was created with the support of area individuals and businesses, several of whom make up the Delavan-Darien Technical Education Advisory Committee. The committee—with technical, physical and financial contributions—has supported not only the Fab Lab, but also the school's metals and woods shop areas with new equipment and refurbishing.

At the open house, juniors and seniors from the engineering design and development class will demonstrate various features of the lab, and visitors may get a small gift to take home with them.

Fellin said while the gifts may entice some visitors to come to the open house,  they're not what's behind enticing kids into the school's revamped technology education courses.

“This is a place where we have a lot of technology, and it's interesting and fun to use. The kids think it's awesome,” Fellin said. “There's actually a small problem that's being created. The students (in the classes) are  telling their friends about it and now they want to be in these classes, too. But we're maxed out. We are full. And I expect we'll be full next year, too. That's actually a really good problem to have.”

Fellin hopes to have the students learn the equipment and software well enough this year that by next school year, the Comet Creations Fab Lab can be open for community use with student support.

Ideally, Fellin said, students will be able to help individual community members and businesses design and build projects—perhaps for a small charge—using the school's equipment and the students' know-how.

“We want to get our machines running right and know our programs properly; really build our base of knowledge,” Fellin said. “When the public comes in next year to work with us, we can be more fast-paced, we can show them what to do better and we can work with them at a quicker pace with better quality.”

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