For our June Parent Guide Group meeting we partnered with North Forge Technology Exchange to provide an experience focused on prototyping and entrepreneurship through a visit to their Fabrication Lab.
North Forge is an innovation-based economic development agency, and their fabrication lab provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to access equipment that they might not normally have the resources to purchase such as wood working and metal working equipment that can be very expensive. This allows entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and prototype them into a tangible product, which they can then refine and reproduce for sale. This innovation process is much like the one that Winnipeg Boldness uses to develop and prototype ideas for social change.
The purpose for our visit was to take the idea of innovation and prototyping from a social perspective through the work of The Winnipeg Boldness Project, and relate it to the prototyping of products for the purpose of arts or commerce. This would allow for the knowledge we’ve gained through learning about social innovation to be used in new ways, and open the door to new possibilities for skill building.
The great thing about North Forge’s Fabrication Lab is that anyone can purchase a membership to access the fabrication lab for a monthly fee, and the best part is that you can choose to volunteer in the lab to work off your monthly membership. So with a little hard work, your membership can be absolutely free! They also help with business start up and have low-cost co-working spaces for people who need an address for their business, but can’t afford to lease an entire office.
The Parent Guide Group was able to partake in a tour of the facility and had the opportunity to see some of the more interesting tools in action, such as a laser cutter and a gigantic 3D printer. There also happened to be a member of the fabrication lab present who chatted with the group and shared his story of starting up his business. The group capped off their tour by participating in a workshop where they assembled pre-cut pieces of wood to create engraved jewellery boxes.
Overall, the group really enjoyed the tour and seeing some of the technology in action. They were very excited and asked lots of questions about the lab, and a few of them had plans to sign up for a membership to develop some of their own ideas.
A big thanks to North Forge for hosting the project! Go check out their website for more info on the work they do: www.northforge.ca