Innovation Unveiled

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Oct. 4, 2018) – North Carolina got its first look Thursday at the future of STEM education. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University unveiled Innovation Station, a 41-foot-long mobile STEM lab and makerspace, before a standing-room-only audience in front of Webb Hall.

Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T designed Innovation Station to help youth see themselves as inventors, engineers and scientists solving real-world problems. The mobile lab will bring technological resources and STEM education to schools and community-based organizations across the state of North Carolina, closing the achievement gap for minority and limited-resource youth by exposing them to STEM skills.

“Innovation Station will engage bright and talented young people and excite them about math and science, opening up the possibilities of what math and science can do for them,” Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said during the unveiling and ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is critically important to the expansive role that we as a land-grant institution play in this community, this region and this state.”

The vehicle is equipped with laptops, iPads, 3D printers, a laser cutter and more. Its interior offers 15 workstations, including a wheelchair-accessible desk. The exterior has a 20-foot awning, an interactive monitor and a PA system for outdoor programming.

“It’s really important to encourage school-age children to get hands-on experience with science, technology, engineering and mathematics so they’re not afraid of these subjects,” said Dr. Juliette Bell, a trustee of the National 4-H Council. “And because this is a makerspace, they won’t just be doing predetermined projects. They’ll be able to innovate and come up with their own ideas.”

Other speakers during the event included Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna, dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Rosalind Dale, associate dean and Extension administrator.

In the STEM lab, participants will gain skills in the engineering design process, robotics, video game design, computer programming and hardware engineering. The makerspace is a collaborative workspace where participants will bring ideas to life through the use of both low- and high-tech equipment. Participants will gain skills in electronics, 3D modeling and printing, innovative problem solving and critical thinking.

“Innovation Station provides opportunity for youths and adults alike to challenge themselves to think outside the box and develop solutions to real-world problems,” said Dr. Misty Blue-Terry, the 4-H STEM specialist with Cooperative Extension at A&T who led the team that created Innovation Station.

“With a heavy focus on design thinking, young innovators will have the opportunity to develop skills in electronics, computer coding, 3D modeling and the engineering design process.”

Learn more about Innovation Station at the university’s website.