University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Community Engagement

Our Fab Lab is an advanced workshop space for rapid prototyping and computer-based design. 

Our Engagement Mission

Our mission is to support and build youth-focused collaborative informal learning spaces that facilitate digital literacy and inclusion. We strive to build communities of fearless creators, problem solvers, and people who work within a fail-forward mindset. We hope to foster a drive to explore, tinker, and ultimately develop fluency and agency with design strategies.

Our work is community-driven. We believe that programming and research should grow out of the needs, passions, and interests of the community it is based in.

By developing long-term partnerships based in mutuality with community organizations, we build organizational capacity to foster richer learning opportunities, where youth can engage in project-based learning that is relevant to their experiences and interests.

MARSHMALLOW CATAPULTS
During our regular programming at UNCC, teens designed and tested marshmallow catapults. They then competed to see whose catapult flung the marshmallow the furthest!
ESCAPE ROOM IN A BOX
The teens at UNCC worked together over the course of a week to build 2 different Escape Room experiences. They created the narratives and constructed all the clues and puzzles. Then they got to solve the opposite group’s puzzle!
PARTNERSHIP WITH DREAAM HOUSE
We recently started a new partnership with DREAAM House. We introduced their teens to basic Makerspace tools and programs. They really enjoyed getting to make their own stickers!
TEEN ART MAKE NIGHTS
Teens from the Teen Art Council hosted a couple of make-night events for new teens to come and make art and learn more about the Teen Art Council. They really enjoyed having the Fab Lab to themselves to make whatever they fancied!
UNCC 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY QUILT
In celebration of UNCC’s 10 year anniversary, the youth at the center helped design and create a queen-sized quilt to give as a gift to Janice Mitchell, the founder and director.
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Our Community Partners

Relationships with our community partners serve as the bedrock to our engagement work, allowing long-term, sustainable and consistent programing and services.

2012 - Present

Since 2012, the Fab Lab has been working with UNCC to provide after-school and summer STEAM programming for middle and high-school students. The 2018 UC2B Community Benefit Fund grant allowed the Fab Lab and UNCC to build out a maker space and recording studio in their Digital Learning Garage.

2013 - Present

Through staff assistance and IT help, the Fab Lab supports the Urbana Free Library’s Teen Open Lab, an after-school space where teens can freely explore music, art, sewing, games, and many other forms of making.

2017 - Present

Since working together on Project Maple, the Fab Lab and Urbana Middle School teachers partner together to offer engaging hands-on maker curriculum in the classrooms. Fab Lab staff help interested teachers in curriculum development, as well as run workshops during class time.

Past Community Partners

Southern Illinois Extension Unit 27

2014-2019
Grant-Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative Digital Innovation

Tap In Leadership Academy

2014-2016
Grant- DCEC Ending the Digital Divide
Sally Jackson

Champaign Public Library

2014-2017
Grant-DCEC Ending the Digital Divide
Betsy Su, Sarah Butt, Emilie Butt, and Kathie Kading

Oakwood Public Library

2014-2018
Grant-Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative Digital Innovation

Interested in Becoming a Community Partner?

We’d love to meet you. Let us know a bit about yourself and your organization.

60+

YOUTH PROGRAMS
IN SPRING 2020

300+

TEEN PARTICIPATIONS
THIS YEAR

ROBUST

RELATIONSHIPS WITH
COMMUNITY PILLARS

Starting May 12th

Summer Open Hours

With the end of the semester fast approaching, we’ll be switching over to our summer open hours starting May 12th.

SPRING OPEN HOURS (until 5/12):
Sundays: 1-6PM
Mon-Thurs: 5-9PM

SUMMER OPEN HOURS (after 5/12):
Sundays only: 1-6PM