Geeks, Makers, Hackers this is your week. General Electric  has dropped a shipping container on Rice campus containing all the tools necessary to bring your imagination to life. Free and open to the public, the GE Garages site contains a Makerbot 3D Printer, laser cutter, CNC Mill, and an injection molder. If that list of tools made no sense to you, this is the perfect opportunity to get back in touch with your spatial skills and gain some hands-on understanding of the new tools in manufacturing.

GE Garages provides  a semi-permanent location that allows students, citizens, and community members to be educated, innovate, and create while gaining an understanding of current manufacturing processes. Visitors will learn about the invention and manufacturing process through guided work with industry experts, training on the high-tech prototyping equipment and guest speakers to provide inspiration for developing pride for manufacturing. GE Garages will also hold daily classes on Bringing your Product Idea to Life, Wireless Networked Projects, Computer Aided Design, and Arduinos. The partners in this project are some of the leaders in the new wave of personal manufacturing: Techshop, Inventables, Skillshare, Quirky, Make, Makerbot.

Speaking as an instructor of engineering design and prototyping, breaking down the barriers between the idea as a concept and the idea as a product is often the limiting factor for a successful student engineering project. With little to no room in the curricula to teach manufacturing skills we as instructors are constantly conceiving of ways to give our students hands-on prototyping experience out-of-class. We should be seeking opportunities for students (and the public) to learn prototyping and the design process outside-of-the-university. The GE Garages project is a perfect setting for this and a milestone in our culture’s renewed interest in the tactile interaction with objects and a romance with craftsmanship.

This opportunity is perfect for k-12 STEM groups, Boy/Girl Scouts, or crafty people. It’s also free and open to the public. GE Garages will be open from 12-6pm every day from April 23rd through May 3rd.

For more information, including directions, check the GE Garages page.

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