BRISTOL, Conn. — GE and Imagine Nation: A Museum Early Learning Center, unveiled the GE Makers Lab, a first-of-its-kind makerspace for early learners in Connecticut dedicated to nurturing young children’s interest in invention, innovation and manufacturing. A ribbon cutting ceremony for the GE Makers lab was held as part of Imagine Nation’s annual Engineer’s Day celebration.
Makerspaces bring together manufacturing equipment, community and education for the purpose of enabling individuals to design, prototype and create manufactured works. They represent a new phenomenon being adopted by today’s manufacturing leaders — including GE.
“Through our Garages program, GE has set up makerspaces around the globe to enable individuals to explore new tools, skills and software that define the future of manufacturing,” explained Paul Singer, chief technology officer of GE’s Industrial Solutions business. “As a global digital industrial company, it’s critical that we’re nurturing the next generation of GE engineers by teaching them about advanced manufacturing processes and showing them the fun and challenge that an engineering career provides. We’re thrilled to partner with Imagine Nation to create a truly unique learning space where young children can invent, create and test their own designs.”
Plainville-based GE engineers collaborated with the Imagine Nation team to conceptualize and design the GE Makers Lab. The main activity in the GE Makers Lab will allow visitors to design, make and build race cars utilizing the same technologies found in today’s manufacturing facilities, including:
- 3-D printer: Controlled by the latest in engineering design software, the 3-D printer enables visitors to quickly and easily transform their designs into real prototypes before their eyes. Similar industrial printers can now create in metals and ceramics, making the future of designing parts easier than ever before.
- Laser cutter: A laser cutter can slice precise and intricate details through just about any material. Architects use it to speed up model-making, fashion designers cut patterns on clothes and industrial designers now leverage it for intricate part creation.
- Collaborative manufacturing robot: Visitors can also interact with Baxter*, a collaborative manufacturing robot developed by Rethink Robotics. GE utilizes robots like Baxter in manufacturing to build and assemble many types of products.
- Magnetic whiteboard: Early learners can dream up and sketch ideas on the whiteboard before beginning the design and prototyping process.
- Audio/visual learning aids: Throughout the makerspace, early learners can watch videos, see graphics and read other educational materials that explore what’s happening now and what’s changing the future of manufacturing around the world.
As part of Imagine Nation’s Engineer’s Day celebration, more than 20 local GE engineers led hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) activities such as making batteries out of lemons, constructing parachutes and testing them in a wind tunnel and designing egg drop structures.
“We are able to offer a unique learning environment for young children through innovative programming, learning experiences in our museum studios, community partnerships and the commitment of our amazing staff, parents and families,” said Coral Richardson, director of Imagine Nation A Museum Early Learning Center. “We are thrilled to have the GE Makers Lab as part of our museum’s Design and Engineering Studio as it’s sure to power the imagination of the children and families who visit us.”
*Baxter is a registered trademark of Rethink Robotics.
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