Fab Lab Engagement Team wins campus award

The Champaign-Urbana (CU) Community Fab Lab Engagement Team has been selected as the recipient of the Campus Excellence in Public Engagement Team Award. The team will be honored on May 28 at a special event hosted by the Office of Public Engagement.

The CU Community Fab Lab is a makerspace at the University of Illinois that supports campus and community members through research, university courses, community engagement and programming, youth summer camps, professional development, and design and fabrication assistance. The Engagement Team includes Emilie N. Butt, instruction and engagement coordinator; Wayne Hardy, fabrication and engagement support associate; Sara Paige Ballenger, instructor; and MSLIS students Lily Schwarz, Alicia Detterman, and Amanda Good.

"Several unique and strong characteristics make the Fab Lab Engagement Team more than
qualified for this award," wrote Associate Professor and Fab Lab Director Kyungwon Koh in her letter of nomination. "These qualities include their sustainable partnerships with community organizations, a community-centered approach, robust youth programming, and service to rural and underserved areas, among others."

CU Community Fab Lab Engagement Team
CU Community Fab Lab Engagement Team members Wayne Hardy, Sara Ballenger, Lily Schwarz, Emilie N. Butt, and Alicia Detterman


In her letter of support, Celeste Moutos, Executive Director of The Urbana Free Library, described the Fab Lab team's work with the library's after-school program, Teen Open Lab, where teens explore robotics, coding principles, and artistic creativity. She noted that staff at the Fab Lab provide hands-on training to library staff and volunteers, which allows them to assist community members in a variety of makerspace activities.

"Their commitment to community outreach and creating a sustained impact in the community has been evident in every project in which we have worked with them," said Moutos.

"We believe that truly engaged work is not just about bringing people onto campus and sharing our expertise, but about meeting them where they are, recognizing the impactful work they are already doing, building relationships, and learning from them as well," said Butt, the team lead. "Their perspectives, interests, and expertise informs our own practice, and bringing these together results in the development of new summer camps, university classes, and curriculum presented to the broader educational community."

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