New FabLab Guru

New manufacturing Guru is building a FabLab future

FabLab Sunderland is happy to announce the appointment of its new manager Tony Canning, who took up the role on Wednesday 4 November.

As holder of the grand title FabLab Guru, Tony is the ideal candidate to lead the creative space after completing the Fab Academy – a digital manufacturing course borne from MIT – and having over 13 years experience in the manufacturing and teaching sectors.

FabLab Sunderland was opened by the University of Sunderland to be the first of its kind in the North East, and, via the FabLab Foundation, there is a knowledge sharing network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones.

Previously, as the STEAM Officer for FabLab Nerve Centre, Derry, Tony focused on the use of digital manufacturing as a tool to link creativity and play with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

This led to eight months in Jordan, contributing to the development of technological solutions which can benefit both refugee and host communities.

He said: “It’s challenging, it’s exciting – you get to see other peoples’ creativity and be inspired by it. I love the ‘play’ part of things. Learning through creating in a playful way to me is almost a model of education. Some may regard that as gimmicky but I’ve seen many projects developed through play and curiosity end up having a truly valuable practical use.”

Based in Shackleton House, in Sunderland city centre, the FabLab offers a diverse range of specialist digital and design fabrication equipment. It is a creative space where anyone can make (almost) anything.

Although FabLabs were originally designed for communities to democratise design and manufacturing and help people to realise ideas and solve problems, many of these have spun out into new start-ups and consumer orientated products and services.

They are also increasingly being adopted by schools and educational institutions as platforms for project-based, hands-on education, to support the STEM and broader creativity agenda. Users learn by designing and creating objects, and are empowered by the experience of making something themselves.

Importantly, whilst each FabLab shares common components and ethos, each FabLab is also unique, adapting and responding to needs and opportunities locally.