Empowering Our Future

Incite Focus

4. Quality Education 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Overview

Incite Focus is a community empowering program allowing community members to create and connect with education in digital fabrication technology. Using technology and software Incite focus gives the community a place to thrive and learn using hands on teaching and experience.

Author

Diara Walker

Diara Walker

School

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University

Professor

Timothy Palmer

Timothy Palmer

Innovation

Incite Focus is a place dedicated to helping at risk children, teens, and adults to learn and grow. Each Incite Focus Fab lab is included with tools and technology that will help each individual be successful. Labs are used to engage students in quality education with hands-on learning using new technology and software. The Detroit based Incite Focus Fab Lab emerged from Blair Evans’s connection to MIT after his undergraduate studies as well as his participation in the Fab Lab certification program later on in 2009 as well as several other entrepreneurial endeavors.

Empowering Our Future

2D Design/Vector Graphics Training

Inspiration

Incite Focus came about after Blair Evans, founder and director of Incite Focus, participated in MIT’s Fab Lab Certification Training program in 2009. Blair previously attended MIT studying computer science, systems dynamics and electrical engineering. Later on, he was inspired to start his own Fab Lab within his community. As the founder and executive director of Evan’s Solutions Inc., a Charter School Management company Blair utilized the Incite Focus Fab Lab to impact student learning at Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy. Susan Matous was a founding employee responsible for program coordinating and student support. The Incite Focus Fab Lab introduced the teaching tools to teachers allowing them to integrate the Fab Lab into their curriculum so that students were provided hands-on learning.

Overall impact

We directly impact our community by providing or improving technical and employability & character skills, says Susan Matous. Children and adults are able to gain technical skill sets through the teaching and use of different technology. The development of character skills comes from working in a more professional work environment allowing more employability. With the Fab Labs being around the world students’ network with people from multiple cultures. Open source projects allow people to share innovations and project details with people around the world and vice versa. Students have even had the opportunity to travel to South Africa and Ethiopia for knowledge transfer projects with students from various cultural and educational backgrounds.

In the years 2010, 2011 & 2013 student Mentor and coordinator, Susan worked with Detroit at risk high school students inside the Incite focus Lab. As a part of this training program students were given the opportunity to travel to South Africa and Ethiopia for a knowledge transfer. Students were taught science, math, cultural studies, reading comprehension in preparation to build a Portable solar traveling charging station. Students were nominated by teachers and interviewed to see if they were interested in traveling to Africa. Susan and associates took into account students' performance, participation, and ability to learn about new cultures and use technological resources. As a part of the training process Susan created field trips to expose these teens to culture and industry in preparation for their trip out of the country. From there each year about 6-8 students were able to travel to Africa and teach other students how to build the portable solar traveling charging station for other students. Students involved in the program were taught how to build a hoop house from Catherine Ferguson and how to start a small business creating and selling beaded crafts from South African Students. From this experience students are taught through practical and real-world experiences.

Incite Focus’ Fab lab in Detroit is used as a training facility for adults who are older, in the middle of a career change or just simply want to learn new skills. There are adult training classes offered that help them find a new career, increase schooling, start their own business or find a job. Adults learn positive work habits, self-development, and entrepreneurial skills that train you to be able to work for yourself or find employment in digital fabrication career fields. Each person who comes into the Fab lab creates long lasting relationships with students and professionals being able to reconnect and network.

Business benefit

Incite Focus generates revenue by facilitating technical training to the community, schools, entrepreneurs, and private clients. Incite Focus creates a business that not only creates a profit to sustain livelihood but also fulfill the personal visions of the organization of making the world a better place. Incite Focus is in the process of relocating to Idlewild Michigan, a historically black community. Idlewild is located inside of Lake county, the poorest county in the State of Michigan. Incite Focus is hoping to make a positive social and economic impact in the Idlewild community. Susan says Mr. Evans often says that it is not only our mission to do well professionally, but also to do good in our community.

Social and environmental benefit

It’s not about making money, it’s about helping the community be a better place. We are people and planet centered Susan pointed out. The Incite Focus Fab Lab strives to be environmentally friendly and uses proper ethical practices to be successful and reach business goals. Fab Lab members take into account the life cycle of each product during the production period. Creators are encouraged to consider and see how long their product will last and its impact on the environment. Incite Focus Fab Lab teaches to use the built environment through incorporating digital fabrication. A Unique component of Incite Focus’ Fab lab is the incorporation of permaculture skills and practices. Permaculture helps community members learn to grow food naturally within their own homes. Community is a major thing that Incite Focus Fab lab incorporates in their business daily. One of the structures of the fab lab is community hours, where Fab Lab is open and accessible to community members without any barriers. Incite Focus impacts the community by allowing its space to be an open resource for community allowing skill building. Training during community hours is free and use of materials may cost depending on what type of technology is used and hours of use. Incite Focus also collaborates with the Metro Detroit Area schools providing professional skill building as well as working with entrepreneurs to develop their own businesses. Incite Focus helps build and create a thriving and healthy community that people are able to be successful.

Interview

Susan Matous, Program Coordinator

Photo of interviewee

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Incite Focus

Incite Focus

Detroit, Michigan, US

Business Website: https://www.incite-focus.org

Year Founded: 2010

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Incite Focus is a community empowering program allowing community members to create and connect with education in digital fabrication technology. With the use of technology, software and tools Incite Focus helps people not just to learn stuff but to learn self.