This week we spoke with Cathy Chen the Executive Director of Fab Lab located in the Las Plazas Arts District in Downtown El Paso. Fab Lab is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that runs high-quality STEM programs and trainings that focus on 21st century workforce skills such as 3D scanning, 3D printing, machining, virtual reality, coding, and more. The organization has hosted over 1,000 unique digital workshops since their doors opened in 2014.
“Our cultural programming focuses on an intersection of art and technology. By providing inclusive community engagement opportunities, we hope to normalize digital and technological approaches to engineering and art” shared Chen.
Recently, Fab Lab has partnered with the Paso del Norte Community Foundation to help supply personal protective equipment (PPE) through face shields and N100 surgical mask kits to at-risk members of the community on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Chen shared with us how this amazing initiative is helping our Borderland community combat the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our priority is given to senior care centers and assisted living homes in addition to first responders such as firefighters and EMTs. The primary objective has been to stop community spread and flatten the curve, so our local medical infrastructure has enough resources to respond effectively to COVID19 cases.”
Independently, Fab Lab has been rapidly working hard to prototype 3D solutions for clinical use such as N95 respirators with interchangeable filters, converting firefighter masks and snorkel masks into N95 respirators, and SLA printing swabs for COVID19 testing.
Other makers throughout the community took notice in their efforts and reached out to Fab Lab to volunteer their services. As the initiative evolved and more PPE orders needed to be fulfilled, the organization decided to partner with Paso del Norte Community Foundation, “In order to scale up the impact.”
“Paso del Norte Community Foundation and several community advocates have been working tireless to secure donations for this COVID-19 3D community response.”
In addition, Fab Lab also has an active fundraiser on their Facebook page. Those funds are going towards raw materials and supplies, so that they can offer the 3D printing and digitally fabricated PPE at low or no cost to their most vulnerable consumers.
Chen shared that the organization would continue to work hard to help the community during the crisis, “This pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital transformation for our social, cultural, and economic sectors. We need leaders in our community to step forward to support initiatives around the democratization and socialization of technology.”
To learn more about Fab Lab, their initiatives, or to donate visit: