Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) has today introduced the National Fab Lab Network Act of 2013 to promote advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. The bill is being introduced with bipartisan support from 15 original co-sponsors including Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Rep. Tom Massie (KY- 4), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) and others.
Fab Labs are state-of-the-art fabrication laboratories available to the public throughout the country where children and adults can invent, design and manufacture products. The equipment can be used to design anything from tools to motors to data networks to artwork.
The first Fab Lab began as a project of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, and has expanded to more than 100 locations throughout the world.
“We have a great tradition of innovation in manufacturing in America. With a national network of Fab Labs we can empower and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Foster. “These labs help students build the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy.”
The proposed legislation would create a nonprofit entity to establish a National Fab Lab network throughout the United States. This chartered status would be similar to the status enjoyed by the VFW and Little League Baseball
The goal of the network will be to establish at least one Fab Lab for every 700,000 people, giving students throughout the country access to the tools and skills needed to bring their ideas to life. The legislation does not provide funding to the network, but seeks to provide the project with the recognition needed to grow and establish new centers throughout the country.
“As a manufacturer, businessman and a scientist I believe it’s critical that we provide the next generation with the skills to succeed in engineering and manufacturing and build the next generation of products, businesses and industries,” added Foster.
And who can argue with that?