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As Philadelphia’s most forward-thinking and tech-savvy development space and community, it stands to reason that NextFab has a strong educational focus. With eighty-eight college-level institutions and four hundred and fifty thousand college-level students in the Philadelphia area, NextFab’s student incentives and support programs cultivate valuable and unique relationships with Philadelphia students and institutions.

Whether it’s contract work for the Penn Electric Race Team, internships for students like Wei Zhen Li, or sponsorships for high school students like Shemar Coombs, NextFab access is a wonderful resource for students in and around the Philadelphia area.

NextFab member working on a project


Many students find that their institution’s resources are great to get them started but once projects are underway they run into obstacles, NextFab can help.

Limited access due to operating hours, departmental requirements, machine quality, and availability as well as limited staff and staff expertise are some of the things that make NextFab such a valuable resource to students. NextFab offers excellent access hours, expert staff, and machines across a broad spectrum of disciplines. Through NextFab’s class programs and one-on-one training, necessary skill sets can be obtained very quickly.

“It’s just such a natural place for a college student,” says Laate Olukotun, marketing manager at NextFab. “Only a few years ago, if you had a concept for a new bookshelf, lampshade, speaker, or a product with any level of sophistication, you were basically out of luck. Now, with the advent of maker spaces, students of all pedigrees have unprecedented access to everything from your basic woodshop to some of the most advanced fabrication tools on the market today.”

College students aren’t the only ones to benefit from NextFab’s student programs, Sidharta Vadaparty, a high school freshman had an idea for an open-source, inexpensive accelerometer for his physics class. Through a NextFab membership, he was able to rapidly develop and prototype his idea. Sid’s “Kinemeter” will allow underfunded science programs a tool that they were previously unable to afford.

Students and recent graduates qualify for a 20% membership discount, a savings of $20 – $40 a month!

Learn more here: Student Membership Pricing


Sometimes a project requires a greater level of skill and expertise than a student or an educational facility is capable of. NextFab’s Contract Services can provide that higher level of fabrication.
In addition to facilities and training that allow a greater level of fabrication possibilities for the individual maker, NextFab provides contract services for machines and material processes that would otherwise be out of the reach of most students and educational facilities. When the prestigious Penn Electric Racing Team needed custom parts fabricated for their award-winning REV1 electric race car, they contracted NextFab to have the parts cut on the 5-axis water jet. This allowed them to have very precise parts cut from a variety of materials in a very short time frame. The main benefit for students is usually time savings, which allows them to put more effort into other portions of their projects, or meet tight deadlines.

NextFab’s Manager of Contract Services, Matt Bell is an enthusiastic asset to student and institutional projects, “NextFab’s Contract Services team is here as a go-to resource for students looking to make their unique and cutting-edge ideas a reality. Whether the need is expert consulting, prototype refinement, or design and fabrication services, we’re here to help! We also proudly support student-run engineering-focused organizations, including the Penn Electric Racing team and Drexel Formula SAE team.”

Alexander Numann, Manager of CAD/CAM/CAE and water jet operator explains some of the benefits of contract work:

A flat part cut from a sheet of metal could be produced in a number of ways (listed in order from least time-consuming to most along with an example of how long the process might take to make one part):

  • Use a CNC machine to water jet, laser cut, or plasma cut (all “beam cutting” processes) from a sheet of raw material to produce a finished, or almost finished part; (15-30 minutes)
  • Use a CNC machine to mill the part from a sheet of raw material or a blank pre-cut with a saw, shear, or beam-cutting process. Since a CNC mill will likely need to take multiple passes to cut through thicker materials, a beam-cutting process is often faster for simple cuts (and produces less waste material. CNC milling does have the advantage of being able to use a variety of tools to produce pockets (beam-cutting processes can generally only cut all the way through the material), and other https://diazepamhome.com specialized features like screw threads; (1-2 hours)
  • Use a manual mill to mill the part from a sheet of raw material or a pre-cut blank. This is how it was done before CNC! (4-8 hours)
    Use a combination of saws, shears, drills, grinders, measuring and marking tools, drills, files, etc. to cut the part from a piece of raw material; (6-12 hours).

Given the example above, it should be clear that the time saved can be significant, and can lead to a significantly better result when the time saved is invested into additional design/analysis/iteration. This is further supported by Penn Electric’s impressive haul of trophies from the last competition, achieved with a car redesigned from the ground up that year. Our water jet cutting saved the students a significant amount of time programming and running their CNC mill at Penn (and some significant headaches milling hard-to-work-with materials like the Garolite composite material they use for their battery housing).

Interested in working with us? Get a Contract Quote!


Through creative partnerships, NextFab brings a deeper level of support to the educational community. By teaming up with your institution, NextFab can help to initiate, integrate and facilitate meaningful and transformative projects, workshops and events.

When Jefferson University sponsored a “Health Hack” hack-a-thon to supercharge healthcare innovation, they partnered with NextFab, giving them access to cross-departmental expertise and fabrication processes. The hugely successful initiative resulted in the development of the Tiger Drone and a number of other cutting-edge healthcare innovations. By providing conference space, computer workstations loaded with specialized software, lasers, 3D printers, an electronics lab, metal and wood shops, and co-working spaces, NextFab is uniquely able to act as an all-inclusive facility for innovation development and educational workshop support.

Interested in a partnership? Contact us at Educational Partnership Contact

Presentation at NextFab makerspace


From Community Projects to on-site lectures, NextFab’s outreach programs extend the creative maker ethos beyond the walls of NextFab facilities.
NextFab has a long history of working with students who attended colleges and universities throughout the region. Originally located at 3711 Market Street in the Science Center, NextFab was centrally located between two prominent schools – the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. NextFab maintains strong ties to both universities.

Recent engagements have included presentations at The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education at Princeton University and senior design classes in Drexel’s Engineering department. NextFab also works with high school robotics clubs and organizations such as TechGirlz, an organization focusing on technology training for girls.

“Most students coming out of top universities with engineering degrees are thinking about the salary waiting for them at firms like Boeing and SpaceX. It is NextFab’s responsibility to make these students aware of the opportunities available to them via resources like maker spaces and startup incubators. The presentation that we give to any group who will listen to highlights the capabilities and resources available to members at NextFab,” says Alex Kaplan, head of Institutional Relations at NextFab, “The boom of software and smartphone app startups is the result of a variety of new resources that became available 10 years ago. NextFab is a resource that will have a similar impact on entrepreneurs entering the hardware space. As part of this pursuit, the NextFab team has presented at Princeton, Drexel, University of Pennsylvania, and hosted groups from Haverford, Rowan University, and more, but this process begins way before the university level. Teams from NextFab have presented at Southwark Elementary, Webster Elementary, Holy Cross Middle School, and Northfield Middle School in New Jersey.”

Soldering class at NextFab


NextFab’s mission is to ‘foster personal fulfillment, innovation, and economic development by providing broad-based awareness of, access to, competence with, and commerce enabled by Next-generation digital design and Fabrication technologies and services.’ What better way is there to fulfill that mission than to reach out to active learners who are presently in pursuit of higher knowledge?

“At its heart, NextFab is an educational organization, but the education is not limited to the classes we offer.  In each of our departments at any given moment in the day, you’ll find someone being coached on a technique, guided to additional information about a tool, or shown an example of an object to work towards replicating.  We also guide and coach people with ideas to help them become businesses, when they are ready, both in and out of our incubation program.” – Paul Roe, Manager of Education Services