University of Texas at Arlington

FabLab student worker gains valuable real-world experience

Portrait of UTA Business GRA Jonathan Le
FabLab student worker gains valuable real-world experience

by Jonathon Le, FabLab GRA

I started coming to the UTA Library to learn how to use Photoshop, at the time it was only available in the DMS. It was great to have access to both the software and knowledgeable staff to expand what I could accomplish in Photoshop. I was able to apply what I had learned at the DMS into making t-shirts for various organizations around UTA.

When DMS went, and FabLab arrived I found a lot of the new equipment quite alluring. As someone that loves to work with wood and really anything around arts & crafts, the laser cutter was my new favorite toy. With a lot of practice, I was able to create complex objects with joints that required little to no glue.

After hanging around there long enough, I became a student staff member in the fall of 2015. One of the things that I hated doing as a patron of the FabLab was filling out those pesky use forms, as a student staff member I vowed to change all of that. In the Spring of 2016, we rolled out the first version of FabApp with the help of Michael Doran, UTA Systems Librarian. FabApp is our system to track equipment usage, organize 3D printing, and thereby eliminating the pain point of the use forms. Over the following year we made modifications to print receipts, track inventory, and add a waiting queue.

This year, I am in the process of releasing a new version of this software that will add five new functions to aid the day to day management of our space. These new functions will be developed by three CSE teams that I will be mentoring this semester. I have received a tremendous amount of professional and personal work experience both as a patron and a staff member of the Library. I look forward to being able to give back to this community that has done so much for me.

Over the summer of 2016, I spent time designing in CAD software, rapid prototyping, and building the one of the first projects in the Aquarium of the FabLab. That project, Screeny McScreen Press, now sits waiting for any patron of the FabLab to print their very own poster or t-shirt, look out for workshops!

Over the next year, I hope to be able to deploy FabApp at schools and maker-spaces across the country. In addition to that, I'll be crafting many new additions to the FabLab (screen cabinet, light exposure unit, display cabinet, acetone vapor chamber, a stand for a sheet metal brake press, a rock feature that doubles as a water filtration system, and a Master in Business Analytics).

Nominated 2016 Outstanding Library Student
14 Years to Complete Bachelor (never give, up never surrender)