2022 brought a lot of exciting changes at FCDI’s AMRoC Fab Lab and for the Foundation for Community Driven Innovation generally, from a mid-year move to a larger space, a monthlong ROBOTICON youth STEM showcase event at the Mall, relaunched Equity in Entrepreneurship program, new staff, new volunteers, new board members, new partnerships and exciting new projects on the horizon. Read on to see where we’ve been and where we’re going, and how you can travel with us.
- We moved to a larger 8000 sq. ft. space just across the Mall hall from our original location, with better accommodations for classroom space, the machine shop, 3D printing, business services, and more.
- We brought exciting hands-on STEM programming to over 1500 youth and their families in 2022, through in-house programming that’s grown to include an Aerial Drone Competition program and Lightweight Combat Robotics, and our annual ROBOTICON youth STEM showcase event.
- We hosted a year of fun First Friday at the Fab Lab livestreams with information,news and resources for all ages.
- Our Florida State Fair STEAMFest engaged hundreds more families in science and tech learning in a new way, leading to an invitation to return in 2023 with an even bigger interactive exhibit space.
- In partnership with Hillsborough County Library Cooperative, established a publicly accessible hardcopy library of STEM reference materials.
- We launched a successful and growing Sewing program, with huge thanks to AMRoC Sewing Specialist Liz Kirby
- We relaunched the Equity in Entrepreneurship program under the direction of Entrepreneur-in-Residence Brian Alvarez-Bailey during the first part of the year, and currently have 9 fledgling businesses winging their way, including one company incubating at AMRoC Fab Lab – Stryke Esports.
- We welcomed new staff: Brandy Jackson, CEO of Scoutlier, as our Program Director, and Clinton Millsap as our Drone Program Coordinator, broadening our ability to provide professional development, training and educational programming scaled into an online library.
- We welcomed new FCDI Board Member, Chimere Sidney, of NET SVS and the LT3 Learning Academy.
- We hosted a full-scale, monthlong ROBOTICON STEM showcase that included, for the first time, two official qualifying tournaments for VEX IQ and VEX Robotics Competition, and our first ROBOTICON Rumble Combat Robotics Tournament. 70 teams from across the state participated, bringing together over 1000 youth and hundreds of local guests to enjoy the robotics competitions.
- We provided prototyping, design and fabrication services to several companies and organizations throughout the year.
- We hosted professional development programming for Hillsborough County educators.
- We participated in a number of community outreach events, from UACDC Partner Coalition Gathering, Soaring City Innovation Gathering, Caribbean American National Development Organization (CANDO) Caribbean Heritage Festival and Youth Robotics Open House
- We were a 2022 MIT Solve Truist Challenge Semifinalist
- We partnered with the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame to host the 2nd Annual Young Innovators Challenge and also helped launch their new IGNITE inventors education program, on which we are also partnered.
Overall, we accomplished over 80% of the 2022 goals we set for ourselves in 2021, and achieved a few benchmarks we hadn’t expected to be able to do for another year or so, so we averaged out ahead of the curve. And there’s still plenty to do in 2023!
In 2023, we’re looking forward to:
- Building out the Uptown TechSports Center with a full range of competitive robotics and drone fields
- Launching at least another 10 new small businesses through our Equity in Entrepreneurship program
- Hosting an expanded STEAMFest at the State Fair exhibit
- Building out our online library of content and resources in partnership with Scoutlier for easier and wider access by teachers and students anywhere
- Growing our STEM Educator Training program
- Expanding the Young Innovators Challenge program
- Adding a small media production studio to AMRoC and expanding some of our facility offerings
- Relaunching Gulf Coast MakerCon in the spring
- Growing the AMRoC Research and Development Lab
We couldn’t do any of these great things though, without the help of our amazing volunteers, our donors and sponsors, and all our amazing community partners. As we head into the new year, there are lots of ways you can get involved and help Make the Future for Uptown and beyond.
How You Can Help Make the Future
Almost all equipment at AMRoC Fab Lab has been donated, and dozens of volunteers contribute their time and expertise. But AMRoC tools and equipment require maintenance, and we’re looking at adding some new equipment, like a mill and audio/visual equipment. There are also costs associated with all our programs, in addition to just keeping the lights on and paying the rent. We’re always happy to welcome new sponsors and program partners.
Here are just a few examples of how your contributions can help:
- $50 can subsidize an elementary school student for a full year in our youth robotics program
- $100 can cover the participation of a middle or high school robotics program student
- $200 will help pay for consumables used in our 3D printers or prototyping materials
- $300 can cover the cost of a team registration fee for our middle school program
- $500 can provide a scholarship for an Equity in Entrepreneurship participant
- $1000 can provide multiple scholarships for a variety of programs, or go towards the cost of new equipment
As little as $5 makes a difference, and lots of $5, $10 and $20 contributions add up, so any and all donations are appreciated.
If you’re interested in being a volunteer or mentor in any of our programs at AMRoC, click the button above to learn more and register. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter, and check out the calendar page for upcoming programs.
FCDI is a Great Nonprofits Top-Rated organization and you can see more photos and stories from FCDI and AMRoC Fab Lab constituents and beneficiaries on our Great Nonprofits page, where you can also add your own! If FCDI or AMRoC Fab Lab have been valuable to you in some way, if you enjoyed an event or program, or your children are in our robotics or drone program, or you’ve been enjoying the sewing program or got some help with your business planning, or just like the idea of a publicly creative accessible community space, please share your stories and photos at Great Nonprofits so our donors and sponsors can see our community impact.
Thank you for helping us help others and continue providing #MakingthatMatters for more people in the University area and beyond!
Happy New Year from all of us at FCDI and AMRoC Fab Lab!
This post also appears at FFCDI.org