In an effort to get students and the community interested in science and technology, Fujitsu has partnered with TechShop to create a mobile makerspace. Housed in a moving 24-foot trailer, "TechShop Inside -- Powered by Fujitsu" is equipped with building and prototyping technologies to teach students 3D printing, laser cutting, CAD design on Fujitsu laptops and tablets, welding, and more.
Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, TechShop and Fujitsu have launched a single TechShop Inside vehicle. The trailers will travel to community centers, schools, libraries, and other venues.
Andrea Cisneros of Fujitsu Laboratories say that there are plans for more technology-equipped trailers in the future. Both companies are taking in the feedback of the 90 or so students who have already gone through the TechShop Inside experience to learn to scale the project and expand.
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For schools that don't offer a prototyping or building course, TechShop Inside essentially takes workshop to the school, bringing the equipment to the students. The trailer is designed for expansion with modular components and shelving units so the equipment can be swapped out depending on the project.
The beauty of TechShop Inside is courses don't require prior knowledge or skills. Through the program, whether it's a day-long workshop or repeat visits as part of a school's curriculum, students will get certified in equipment safety and learn how to use computers to design their projects. After the design process is completed, students will have access to the machinery needed to build their projects.
So far, TechShop says that they have received interest from Mulberry School, Brentwood Academy, Design Tech High School, Los Altos School District, SIATech, San Jose libraries, Santa Clara County Libraries in the Bay Area.
There will be a small charge to participate in TechShop Inside though the TechShop would not disclose the fees at this time. Participation fees will be reinvested and applied towards the purchase of new or additional equipment so TechShop Inside could be a self-sustaining operation.
Program director Cody McCabe says that it's simpler and cheaper to take the makerspace to students than transport students to a workshop to have access to these tools. McCabe adds that TechShop Inside could be used as part of an educator's existing curriculum, to supplement a curriculum, or as an extracurricular offering at schools and libraries.
To manage costs if TechShop Inside is used for a single project, the design and prototyping components could be split into two.
"In one scenario, TechShop can meet with students on one day and teach them how to use computers to design a project," TechShop Dream Consultant Mel Olivares says. "In a few weeks, the TechShop would return with the TechShop Inside vehicle and the equipment to let students build and prototype their designs using machines like 3D printers."