TAMPA, Fla. —  From robotics to sewing, program officials say there’s a lot to learn at the AMRoc Fab Lab

Located in the University Mall in Tampa, AMRoc, which stands for Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics Center, is run by the nonprofit Foundation for Community Innovation.

What You Need To Know

  • Classes are open to students and adults at the AMRoc Fab Lab, located in University Mall in Tampa

  • Programs focus is on STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and manufacturing

  • Most programs have a nominal fee, and some are free of charge

Students and adults can take various classes, with the focus being on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and manufacturing.

“Your test is are you able to master it and to create things that move, and do the things you want them to do," said Terri Willingham, with the Foundation for Community Innovation. "And when you can build things and make things, you’re empowered in the world.” 

Tampa high school student Jalyse Church attends classes at the AMRoc Fab Lab and says in the two years she’s been going there, it’s opened her eyes to a whole new world. She says the programs there have helped her find the perfect career.

“With gears in a robot, if you don’t put enough grease in a gear, it will disintegrate. It’ll turn to dust,” she said, demonstrating the process involved in building a gear box for a robot.

“I’m getting too ready to make versa planetary gear boxes which are very important they help to supply a large amount of power to our robots,” she said. 

Jalyse, 14, is on AMRoc Fab Lab’s robotics team, but she admits that robots weren’t part of her world before starting classes. She said her dad wanted her to try it out, so she gave it a shot.

“I was like, 'OK, I’m in this anyway, how am I going to be of use?'" she said. " I can’t just be that one member on the team who doesn’t do anything."

Mentors teach students everything they need to know for the particular field they specialize in — in this case, building gear boxes for robots. 

“I’m kind of a fast learner, so it didn’t really take long," Jalyse said. "But I came in knowing nothing, so I’m really grateful for him, as well as our other mentors."

Jalyse says she always considered herself more of an artsy person, and while the design aspect of robotics is what first piqued her interest, she’s learned to love the mechanical side of things too. At the AMRoc Fab Lab, though, she said she’s able to do both.

“Paint 3d, this is what I typically use,” she said while drawing a picture on her laptop with the software she learned to use at AMRoc. 

Jalyse says learning these new skills has really made a difference in her life. Now, she says she wants be an architect or engineer when she grows up so she can combine her two passions — art and robots.