FabNet: Extending the FabLab Classroom

Presenters: Sonia Amira Bendjemil and Stephen Portz
In this session, the presenters will focus on the FabNet initiative, a project exploring the use of digital fabrication to allow middle school students to create digital designs that are realized as physical objects, such as Joseph Henry’s galvanometer, reciprocating motor, and telegraph. The FabNet initiative findings will inform the next generation of schools that are planning to integrate engineering education into their curricula.

(Note: Sonia Amira Bendjemil is replacing Nigel Standish as presenter)

Sonia Amira Bendjemil, Graduate Research Fellow, University of Virginia
As the director and education advisor for the Commonwealth Engineering Design (CED) K–12 Fabrication Laboratory, Bendjemil works to develop cross-integrated STEM curricula. Bendjemil has a BS and an MS in Biomedical Engineering and is currently a graduate research fellow at the University of Virginia, where she is part of a team that collaborates with Charlottesville City and Albermarle County public schools. The mission of the fabrication laboratory is to teach science in the context of engineering design through advanced manufacturing in order to prepare students for success in a competitive global economy.

Stephen Portz, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, Triangle Coalition for STEM Education
In his fellowship assignment, Stephen Portz is working to stimulate innovative research in cybersecurity education and to promote computer science and cybersecurity K–12 education initiatives. Portz is also working with the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, where he is helping to develop engineering programs that use low-cost equipment alternatives and to support adoption implementation strategies at the middle school level. Prior to the fellowship, Portz taught career and technical courses for the past 25 years in Brevard County, Florida. He has been a pioneer in secondary school engineering education by developing state curriculum standards, serving on state certification committees for software and testing, and working on a team to establish a national engineering credential for students. As a very early adopter of 3D printing in the classroom, he is passionate about working with local manufacturers, training students in engineering and industrial design, and helping students learn how to be product developers. Portz was awarded the Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE) Center Manufacturing Secondary Educator-of-the-Year Award in 2012. That same year, he was the recipient of the Motorola STEM Solutions grant. Portz received his BS in Technology and Engineering Education from Brigham Young University and his MEd in Administration of Career and Technical Programs from the University of Central Florida.