It was a celebration on the grounds of Independence Community College Wednesday as ground was broke for the newest addition, Fab Lab ICC 2.0, a 6,400 square foot expansion of Fab Lab ICC. Following the ground breaking ceremony, visitors enjoyed a drop-in open house complete with refreshments, networking and tours of ICC’s current Fab Lab; schematics of what the new facility will be like were on display as well.

Fab Lab ICC 2.0 will accommodate the Fab Lab’s large fabrication equipment and allows for the addition of a welding center, paint booth, collaborative entrepreneur incubator space and offices. 

Fab Lab ICC director Jim Correll welcomed everyone to the groundbreaking ceremony and open house, and introduced ICC president Dan Barwick who began by stating, “This is a tremendous day for all of us. I have had previous students, when they are talking about faculty here, they will talk about how they can divide their lives into the time before they took the class from that faculty member and their lives afterwards. I think when those of us look back on this event we are going to think about the campus as before this event and after this event because I think this is a pivotal moment in the history of this campus.”

Barwick continued, stating Fab Lab ICC 2.0 is the first new academic space being built on the campus in two decades. “It was only possible due to the efforts of some pretty incredible people,” he said, pointing out Correll who, deserves an enormous share of the credit, according to Barwick. “But he didn’t do it alone. He has an incredibly effective staff who works with him.” He also spoke of the community support, many of whom were present for the ceremony.

“I thank the granddaddy in all of this — the federal government,” Barwick said as laughter rippled through the room. “They provided a generous grant for a portion of this.” He recognized ICC board trustees in attendance, Norman Chambers, Val Defever, Jana Shaver and Mike Wood. “Our board did something I think that showed tremendous foresight which is that they set aside a portion of the funds the taxpayers generously give us for this project because they believe it would be of tremendous benefit for our community.”

Barwick thanked the private donors. “Many generous people stepped up to make this project possible,” he explained. “This thing came together at tremendous speed because everybody worked together, everyone could see the value of it. Jim is doing incredible things at the Fab Lab, it’s effect on the community and the college will fully grow. Years from now, we will look back on this as a time when the college continued to deliver tremendous value.”

Cornell took guests back to 2014. “Curtis Levine is back there and he saw the vision in this whole Fab Lab thing from the beginning so we would not of even been able to get started had it not been for him,” he stated.

It was then time for the groundbreaking ceremony which featured board of trustee members, Fab Lab staff and special guests — students from the Greenbush gifted program. “They are from several school districts in the area and they come here in different waves and different numbers on Wednesdays to work on projects,” Correll explained.

Once the ceremony was over, guests were encouraged to tour the Fab Lab ICC and see everything it has to offer not just students but the community as well.

According to a recent press release, the project is the culmination of less than two years of planning, fund-raising and grant writing. “This was a fast-moving undertaking from conceptualization to this point, and we’ve been blessed with all the pieces falling into place, thanks to supportive leadership, donors and grantors,” he stated.

The project is collaboratively supported by funds approved by the ICC board of trustees, several private donations and a matching grant by the federal Economic Development Administration for a total construction cost of approximately $700,000. The new facility allows the Fab Lab to expand the tools and resources offered to members. Correll noted the Fab Lab receives approximately 5,000 visits per year by members and guests. 

The new facility design firm is Heckman & Associates, LLC, of Independence, with Decker Construction, of Coffeyville, as the general contractor. Most of the sub-contractors are based in Montgomery County.

More information on Fab Lab ICC is available by contacting Correll at (620) 252-5349/