The Mohawk Valley Community College FABLab, a small-scale workshop comprised of industrial-grade fabrication equipment and electronic tools, was used to help a local FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team reach the World Championship taking place in Detroit later this month.

The JavaScouts is a team made up of seven students ages 13-18 from New Hartford and Oriskany – Kyle Grover, Liam Evans, Kyle Tuttle, Keegan Birt, Ari Sprague, Leon Zong, and Surayya Mohamed. The team qualified for the World Championship after placing in the regional competition that took place in January at SUNY Polytechnic Institute that included 24 teams stretching from Buffalo to Binghamton to Potsdam.

While building their robot, the JavaScouts used MVCC’s FABLab to design and create several pieces, including a cup that collects balls and cubes during part of the competition.

“At the competition, they will not only compete against other teams on the robot field, but also with regard to engineering work, community engagement, technical documentation, and the use of sensors, programming, and robot control,” said Jeff Birt, an associate professor of engineering at MVCC and father to one of the JavaScouts. “There will also be a wide range of opportunities to see how other teams solved problems, network with top companies, and learn about up-and-coming technologies. There’s so much to be excited about!”

MVCC opened its FABLab in 2015, and was the first college in New York to have a FABLab as part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Consortium, connecting MVCC to a global community of educators, researchers, and innovators.

“The MVCC FABLab has been a critical tool in the success the JavaScouts have achieved,” said Dave Smith, technical assistant in the FABLab. “Access to the large array of 3D printing technologies in the lab enabled the team to quickly fabricate modifications and try out new design ideas. One key to their success was a sophisticated component that took many design iterations and would not have been able to be developed without the use of the technologies in the lab.”

The FABLab is open to students, the community, and local businesses. The lab serves many different purposes, including: providing a place where students can design and build projects while being able to participate in all phases of standard production processes; providing local businesses with the latest design and rapid prototyping technologies to be able to develop new products and improve existing products for the market; giving community members an opportunity to learn the latest technologies and a place to develop their ideas or inventions; and providing Central New York with a workforce that has been trained using the latest high-tech fabrication equipment and electronic tools including 3-D printers and scanners, a laser engraver, a vinyl cutter, and CNC routers and milling machines.

“The Java Scouts were able to get hands-on engineering and manufacturing experience the will be invaluable as they continue on their educational adventures,” said Smith.