Monday was a fabulous day at Fab Lab ICC as the ribbon was officially cut on the newly constructed expansion building located on the campus of Independence Community College. Surrounded by contributors, ICC staff, Independence Chamber of Commerce and Ambassadors and townspeople, Fab Lab ICC Director Jim Correll took control of the large-sized scissors to make the opening of the newest addition official. The event began with ICC President Dan Barwick making a few comments. “Welcome everybody. I want to welcome you to the ribbon cutting of the new Fab Lab addition which is the first new academic space on the main campus in 20 years,” he said to loud cheers. “When we started the whole Fab Lab project four years ago I’m not sure any of us could have really grasped the hunger that would be shown for what the Fab Lab had to offer.” Barwick told the audience what they were looking at was the manifestation of that hunger. “This is a tremendous day for all of us,” he stated. “It’s an important day for the Fab Lab, it’s an important day for the college and it’s an important day for the community.” Barwick recognized the fact the Fab Lab is a partnership. “The addition you see here was paid for by local tax dollars, by the federal government and from generous private donors. We want to make sure we thank all of them,” he said handing the microphone over to Fab Lab ICC Manager Tim Haynes. “I’m really nervous and I don’t often speak in front of groups of this size so I wrote some notes … about five minutes ago,” he said. “When we decided we needed more space, part of the reason we decided that was because our usage was growing. It wasn’t necessarily growing from one particular group more than any other group but we did see a huge ground swell of support from young people.” He stated kindergarten through 12th grades has been one of the Fab Lab’s larger user groups. “I think that is really indicative of where we are going in the future. We need to infuse K through 12 and below with STEM education opportunities and this is really one of the best ways to do that.” Haynes said he feels that strongly because it is an investment in the future. “As these kids grow up we want them to come to ICC. We have the best Fab Lab in Kansas and we are the only community college in Kansas that has one,” he noted. “That is something that is really special, it sets us apart and we expect big things in the future and we should.” It was Correll’s turn to speak and he began by stating with a chuckle, “I just want everyone to know I did my notes at 7:30 this morning. You know, people sometimes ask how we got so much done in four years and really, it surprised us. But I think we are starting to figure it out.” He said not long after Fab Lab ICC opened, they began to see the “positive psychological effects” of making things. “In the beginning we thought we were just going to show people how to make things,” Correll stated. “Then we started to see what happened to people’s thinking when they made things. Psychologists call that an increase in self-efficacy which has something to do with the way we make decisions and solve problems. Self-efficacy doesn’t know any barriers between work and and personal life so it affects us in everything we do.” He stated around two years ago the Fab Lab started changing the way they thought about their mission to improving self-efficacy of those experiencing the Fab Lab. “Today we think of it as giving everybody a different glimpse of what their future might be,” said Correll. “That really applies to a lot of different people such as the K through 12 kids, middle school girls who come to the STEM camp for three weeks, it applies to a grandmother who didn’t think she could use our equipment and then she ended up etching wine glasses for her granddaughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner, it applies to a marketing professional launching her own business after losing her job, or a cosmetologist who only thought she knew how to do hair but she ended up making her own sign and her own vinyl for the windows.” Correll spoke of how the Fab Lab can help community businesses grow as well as students. “Funders, foundations, government agencies and others trying to make the world a better place like seeing changes in they way people think, kind of an entrepreneurial mindset, hoping people of all ages and all walks of life become better problem solvers,” he said. Correll guided the audience toward where the ribbon cutting would take place and explained tours of the facility would be available following. The new space offers state-of-the-art welding stations, paint booth, incubator space, work tables and offices.