Fab Lab: Introducing A Renovation Technology

By: Julius Sim ’16
Staff Writer

Deep within the recesses of the Annenberg Science Center, on the bottom floor, one can find the Fabrication Lab, or Fab Lab, for short. This new addition to Peddie comes with a 3D printer, a laser cutter, and a Peddie faculty member fresh to campus— the new robotics teacher and Fab Lab guru, Scott Meredith.

The Fab Lab, a project in its initial phases, offers students the opportunity to design, create, and assemble their very own projects. With the 3D printer and laser cutter, students are able to create tangible products out of their own software designs, while learning about the engineering and physics aspects behind them.

“I started a lab at Robbinsville High School dealing mostly with robotics and the robotics team. Here at Peddie, my plan is to continue the same thing, only bigger and better,” Meredith, a former head of the Robbinsville High School Robotics team, said.

The lab will relocate and expand from its current location to the currently unoccupied boiler plant. A Robotics team will be open to interested students. Yet, despite the lab’s current modest appearance, it has already begun to make an impact on Peddie’s academics.

Numerous classes, including AP Calculus BC, Multivariable Calculus, Architecture, EXP, and Math Physics have taken advantage of the Fab Lab’s new technology.

“In 30 years of teaching volumes of revolution and solids, we were able to draw diagrams and utilize computer animations to illustrate our work, but it was always nice to think if we could build 3D models,” math department teacher Andrew Caglieris, Ph.D., said. “Even this year, some classes used paper models to illustrate the work. But with the Fab Lab, students got to really see what they were doing, and also learned more about the engineering aspect of the project, as they struggled through it.”

The fab lab, a new addition to Peddie, allows students to apply what they learn in classes to create objects using the 3D printer and the laser cutter. Photographer: Caroline Casey '15
The fab lab, a new addition to Peddie, allows students to apply what they learn in classes to create objects using the 3D printer and the laser cutter. Photographer: Caroline Casey ’15

Students also expressed interest in the new technology provided by the Fab Lab.

“Our class used the laser cutter to build cardboard trebuchets, mostly utilizing Adobe Illustrator,” Chandler King ’16, a student in Mathematical Physics, said. “Having never approached this technology, I thought the process was somewhat difficult, but Mr. Meredith was supportive in helping us design and cut out our parts. It was interesting to see how flexible the technology was, as students could not only use it for academic projects, but also for individual creative uses.”

Jack Jiang ’16, a student in Caglieris’s AP Calculus class, agreed. “I found making the cross sections of the different solids a difficult challenge, not having much experience with the software or the design aspect, yet once I put in the work, the result became very satisfying. I was struck by the novelty of the technology—the opportunity to use this technology is so rare for high school students, almost as rare as computers were back in the 80’s.”

When the Fab Lab is moved to the power plant, the upgraded Fab Lab will include several larger machines, new activities organized for the robotics team, and a wider array of academic opportunities, such as new courses for students interested in engineering and design.

“This year’s projects cooperating with the Fab Lab was a learning experience, and it was interesting to use the technology to enhance the teaching process,” Caglieris said. “The technology was a helpful tool to improve the curriculum, and has been the topic of many discussions amongst the math, science, and art departments. Looking to the future, I imagine that we’ll continue to utilize this technology for teaching, covering a wider variety of topics.”

Meredith commented on the Fab Lab and its promising growth: “The community here has been supportive, with students who are curious and interested and faculty who share similar visions. It’s a rare experience; we’re not playing with hot glue guns and popsicle sticks, but with real technology that most students will have to wait until senior year in college to work with. The point of engineering is to endeavor to build whatever you can conceive of, and the main goal of this lab is to provide students with the very opportunity, offering new technology to help them fabricate whatever they want.”