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PHABLABS Initiative Aims to Reach Youth, Young Professionals

Photonics Spectra
May 2017
BRUSSELS — The PHABLAB 4.0 initiative, aiming to achieve lasting photonics integration in the expanding ecosystems of European Fab Labs and Makerslabs, has announced its startup phase.

Together with 27 partners, tailored workshops and projects will be developed for up to 3000 young people to experiment with the PHABLAB 4.0 modules. Within the first three years of the project, PHABLABS 4.0 is expected to reach 18,000 young people through photonics, STEM education and engineering advocacy, readying them for jobs of the present and future. The existing network of about 500 FabLabs offers the ideal co-creative platform where young minds and entrepreneurs can effectively experiment with science, the newest technology and components such as laser equipment, LED, lenses and optical fiber up to programmable electronic chips.

The roadmap of PHABLABS 4.0 encompasses the development of a suite of 33 photonics workshops, 11 photonics challenger projects and toolkits customized for three specific user groups: young minds (10 to 14 years old), students (15 to 18 years old) and young professionals or technicians (18+ years old).

After the creation and design of modules in the first development phase, ending in June 2017, all partners will test the workshops and challenger projects. From July 2017 onward, different user groups such as schools or mother-daughter duos will be invited by local FabLabs to participate in test panels to integrate their feedback in further development.

"There is a huge opportunity to spark young people for science by engaging them in real-life experiments,” said Hugo Thienpont, coordinator of the project and director of VUB B-PHOT Brussels Photonics. “Getting acquainted with new technologies to create concrete projects can speed up the learning curve fundamentally. The challenge is to excite them in an inspiring way so they see themselves they can develop their talents and can have a meaningful impact as high-tech engineer.”

BusinessResearch & TechnologyeducationPhablab 4.0photonics integrationyouth outreachEuropean Fab LabsMakerslabsEuropelasersfiber opticsLEDslight speed

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