February 7th Minutes - Operation Committee

Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab
1301 South Goodwin Avenue Urbana, IL 61801


Business/Operation Committee Meeting
Monday February 7, 2011 @ 5:30 PM

I.  Call To Order

II. Attendance
    Gershenfeld, Mane, Manton, McConnell, Rischau, Rose, Semeraro, Watson G, Watson M-K

III. Approval of Minutes
     A. Operations Committee Meeting - December 6, 2010

IV. Approval of Agenda/Addenda

V.  Hours of Operation

The fab lab is currently maintaining open lab hours as approved at our last meeting, these being Sunday from 3 to 6 PM, Monday 4 to 9 PM, and Thursday 4 to 9 PM.  Gary Watson and two student assistant lab managers (Lauren and Johann) are responsible for opening and closing the lab during these times.  In addition, a select group of UI staff are also available to keep the lab open during these hours of operation.  Additional lab times to accommodate evolving community needs will be addressed as required.  As the pool of trained volunteers increases, the lab anticipates an incremental expansion of these hours.

A suggestion was made to compile usages statistics of the lab.  The assistant lab managers are tabulating this information as part of their work assignment.  It has been observed that Sunday afternoon has the lightest traffic, and Monday and Thursday evening usually being quite busy.  The lab appears to be achieving a good balance of community and student users.  The laser cutter continues to be the most sought after tool in the lab.  Allocation of time on this machine consistent with the mission of the fab lab is an area that requires more study by all users of the lab.  Currently we limit the time any one user may use the machine during open lab times to 20 minutes more or less, subject to the discretion of the assistant lab manager.

The friends committee has developed an introductory flyer which is handed out to new people when they come into the lab.  Introductory workshops for new users are also under development. Arrangements are being made to have a group of cub scouts design and build a working drawbridge.

VI. Fab Academy

CUCFL has four active participants in the Global Fab Academy, which for Spring 2011 comprises some 50 students in 14 countries.  The academy meets on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 to 11:00 AM to participate in a global lecture given by Professor Neil Gershenfeld of the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms.  Additional lab times for the participants are coincident with global lab times on Mondays and Fridays between 8 and 11 AM.  A summary of academy activities was presented by Mercedes, who is the lead instructor for this enterprise at CUCFL.

VII.  CUCFL Accounting

An official accounting procedure should be approved for the benefit of the fab lab.  Currently, users may provide their own materials (if OK'ed by the assistant lab managers), or are supplied with suitable items on a voluntary basis.  It would be useful if a small inventory of pre-approved materials were available for purchase and use in the lab.

Joel will look into the feasibility of establishing a banner number which links to the existing fab lab account.  Ultimately, the IT committee could then create a link on the cucfablab.org website to accept voluntary contributions.

A suggestion was made to allow for on-site voluntary contributions for the usage of the laser cutter, at rates similar to those in other university labs.  It was also suggested that users of the lab document their work so that their efforts could be fed into the fab lab knowledge base for the benefit of all.

VIII.  New Equipment

Two new pieces of equipment which are soon to be available in the lab include a 3D printer and a CNC router. Johann and a volunteer from NCSA have collaborated on a project which provides a novel and intuitive interface to operate the CNC router.  A profile will appear soon on the CUCFL website which describes this installation. The 3D printer is still not fully functional.  Lauren reports that the unit motherboard may need to be replaced, and is actively pursuing a remedy from MakerBot.

Dual Monitors and faster computers are now available, backed up with a central server. Windows and ubuntu operating systems are available and under development by the IT Committee.

A Shop Bot for the fab lab remains under consideration as well.

It was suggested that plans for lab equipment acquisition be developed, consistent with the goals of the fab lab.

IX.  New Business

A proposal was presented to the City of Urbana Public Arts Commission last January by the curriculum committee.  Successful applicants will be notified this coming March.

Three CUCFL volunteers went to the USFLN conference in Kansas City the last week of January

An Inkscape "hands on" workshop was hosted last January by one of our volunteers, and promises to be the first of many such recurring activities in the fab lab.

The fab lab anticipates presenting a poster session at the iHotel on Wednesday March 9th between 3 and 6 PM for the 2011 Public Engagement Symposium.  An application was submitted by the friends committee.

X.  Other business

In honor of the 50 year anniversary of the inaugural speech by JFK:

"And so, my fellow fab lab'ers: ask not what your fab lab can do for you - ask what you can do for your fab lab".

XI. Adjourn