I recently had the pleasure of sharing our story with Voyage Tampa Bay.  It was a sweet trip down memory lane, on the cusp of a new year. (Read the full story here.)

But what stands out for me in the retelling of our journey is a signature element, the lesson at the heart of all we do:  that real change, achievement, understanding, mastery, and success take time, that a life well lived is a Long Game of calculated skill and knowledge building and accrued experience.

We are collectively inundated with opinions often masquerading as facts and incontrovertible truths, overwhelmed by a deluge of influencer peddling and thousands of “Five (usually superficial) things you need to know” that will presumably change our lives forever.  We are bombarded by incessant messaging about ways to achieve instant beauty, wealth, health, and happiness that, for the most part, serve only to make us feel ugly, poor, sick, and sad.

However, the message of FCDI made manifest in AMRoC Fab Lab, is our belief that what we all need most need to succeed – and we define “success” as a healthy combination of personal fulfillment, self-reliance, agency, grit, and the commensurate economic well-being that usually comes of these traits – is a safe, welcoming, mentor-supported community space stocked with both digital and shop tools,  the freedom to make mistakes and the unhurried time to learn from them.

Sure, there’s some time-sensitive programming.  Robots need to be built to compete at scheduled times, and entrepreneurs need to submit business plans and presentations by deadlines.  But everyone can also go back and try again, refine, rinse and repeat as often as needed.

Integrity, character, resiliency, patience, determination, and mastery – of ideas, skills, methods, and strategies – all take time to build and perfect.   “Just believe in yourself” and “Dream it, Do it”  are nice feel-good slogans, but there are enough stories about fast tracks to fame and fortune that derailed dramatically and expensively to show it takes more than believing in yourself and dreaming big to achieve anything of enduring value.  It takes time,  hard work, a lot of practice, and a lot of failures – and the resiliency those experiences build –  to become really and profitably good at anything.

AMRoC Fab Lab will not change the world.  We don’t have a secret recipe for building the best robots or becoming the next billion-dollar corporate genius, and we offer no pie-in-the-sky shortcuts to success.  What we can and do work to change is the culture of access to resources, tools, and opportunities for more people. What we do help build is the capacity for empowerment.

The path to success we offer is inclusive, equitable, and accessible space and time and a safe supportive community to help you find your way to the future you want, with enduring meaning and purpose.  Then maybe, just maybe, YOU can help change the world, for yourself and others.

It’s a brand new year with 365 fresh opportunities before you. Come explore the possibilities at AMRoC Fab Lab!

-Terri Willingham, Executive Director, Foundation for Community Driven Innovation

First Friday at the Fab Lab: Live from CES in Las Vegas!

Tune in Friday, January 6 at 8pm on Twitch.tv/amrocfablab for a special First Friday live broadcast from TechPodcastNetwork studios at CES in Las Vegas, one of the largest tech trade shows in the world!

January 2023 Calendar of Events & Programs

Please confirm all program dates on the AMRoC Calendar Page

Regularly Scheduled Programming

  • Intro To Sewing – Each Tuesday in January – 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm  – Register here
  • Uptown Tampa Drone Fly-In – Every Tuesday – 6:00 pm  – 7:30 pm.  Bring your drone, or come fly one of ours and learn more about drones as a hobby or career.  Email [email protected] to RSVP or with questions.
  • AMRoC Sewing Group – Every Wednesday, 5:00 pm to 6:30 pmSign up here
  • AMRoC Flyers – Uptown Tampa Youth Drone Club Meetup Every Thursday – 6:30 pm– 8:00 pmRegister here
  • First Friday at the Fab Lab live stream – January 6 at 8 pm on Twitch.tv/amrocfablab: New Year, New Adventures in Making that Matters – Live from CES in Las Vegas!
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays – Open Make – 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm – Bring a project to work on or come by for a tour.  RSVP here.

Special Events & Meet Ups

  • FIRST Robotics Competition Kick-Off event – Saturday, January 7 11:00 am to 1:00 pm – See what this year’s high school robotics competition is all about!  RSVP to attend to [email protected]
  • Tampa Bay Inventors Council meeting at AMRoC – Wednesday, January 11 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Guest speaker, Attorney Brent Britton – RSVP to attend here.
  • Kiwanis Club of Uptown Temple Terrace – Wednesday, January 11 and Wednesday, January 25 – 6pm – Visit the Club’s Facebook page to learn more and get involved.
  • FIRST Tech Challenge Tampa Meet – Saturday, January 14 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.  See middle and high school robotic teams from around the area compete at University Mall!  RSVP to attend to [email protected] or just come by to enjoy the competition.
  • Homebrew Hillsborough – Friday, January 27, 8:30 am – 10:00 am – See flyer below for more info and RSVP here.
  • Uptown Tampa Community Collaborative Meetup  – Saturday, January 28,  6:00 pm – 7:30 pm .  Join us to hear from community partners and friends to hear the latest in Uptown happenings –  RSVP  here

Visit our Calendar Page to confirm dates, times, and registration information for all programs.

Equity in Entrepreneurship Heads to 1 Million Cups

Our Equity in Entrepreneurship LaunchPad cohort is wrapping up their session with their capstone 1 Million Cups Tampa presentations.  Here’s the schedule so far:

  • 1/4/23                Martika Jones, BUP
  • 1/4/23                Monica Smith, Sober Roots
  • 1/11/23              Justin Mahanes, RC Hydrotracks
  • 1/11/23               Kelsy Imel ,Can Crusher
  • 1/18/23               Recquel Mack-Randles ,G+g Salon
  • 1/25/23               Ora Tanner. Black Unicorn Education
  • 1/25/23               Sergio Alexis Velazquez, DAKA International

Watch live in-person each Wednesday morning at  9:00 am at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City, or on Facebook Live at 1MC Tampa.

Visit Equinent.org/news to learn more about these great new small businesses and to register for our next cohort!

AMRoC Spotlights!

Many thanks to students from our youth robotics teams for helping provide outreach at the Caribbean American National Development Organization’s December Robotics Open House (at left)  and to the dedicated students of Pierce Middle School’s Latinos in Action group (below right), who came out to AMRoC to help with some organizational projects.

Also, kudos to all our robotics team students (below left)  who worked on learning CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) during their off-season





Save the Dates in February!

February 9-20, AMRoC Fab Lab heads to the Florida State Fair for our 2nd Annual STEAMFest at the Fair event.   Keep your eye on our website and social media for details!

AMRoC R&D Labs – Helping You Helps Us!

Stuck on a design or programming problem? AMRoC R&D Labs is available for consultation and hire to solve business and creative needs and challenges across a diverse field of expertise for public, private, and government sectors.

Professional fees benefit youth programs, in addition to solving your work challenges.  The team is currently working on technology solutions for marine, communications, and aerospace projects, and welcomes the opportunity to explore creative solutions to your business challenges, as well!

AMRoC Fab Lab resources include CNC milling, laser cutting, 3D printing, and rapid prototyping, CAD design services, and more.

Visit our AMRoC Services page to learn more and schedule an appointment.

Happy New Year – Make it Awesome!