The Prototyping Core Lab: Supporting innovation and creativity in KAUST and the Kingdom

Alvin G. Cahoy, a machinist in the Workshops Core Lab, is pictured here working in the Prototyping Core Lab on campus. Photo by Asharaf K. Abdulrahman.

​-By KAUST Core Labs

The KAUST Prototyping Core Lab's new facility on campus provides a safe and stimulating environment where users can get creative and make "the next big thing." The facility's inauguration took place in November 2018 and over 300 guests from the University's community and KAUST President Tony Chan attended its opening ceremony.

The exciting facility located in the University's Innovation Cluster offers equipment ranging from 3D printers to laser cutters, computer numerical control (CNC) machines, woodworking tools and electronics. Users can receive assistance from a dedicated team of experts to help refine their ideas and bring them to reality.

Pictured from left to right in the Prototyping Core Lab on campus are Dr. Justin Lee Mynar, executive director of the KAUST Core Labs; Dr. Tony Chan, KAUST president; Prof. Jean M. J. Fréchet, vice president emeritus and former senior vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST; and Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of KAUST Innovation and Economic Development. Photo by Aymen Felfel.

"The Prototyping Core Lab is a new facility purposely designed to foster innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. It delivers specific training in design and fabrication and is open to the entire KAUST community. However, the facility is only a start—we need community members with creative ideas to materialize their ambitions here. It will be a great pleasure to see the next successful product innovation started in the Prototyping Core Lab," stated Dr. Justin Lee Mynar, executive director of the KAUST Core Labs. "By bringing the prototyping facility into the Core Labs, the facility broadens capability and the services offered through extended access to the Workshops Core Lab."

"Since its opening, the facility has exceeded our expectations in terms of participation. We have already registered over 260 users and delivered 300 training sessions, and the excitement and enthusiasm continues to build!" said Tamer Shahin, lead of the Prototyping Core Lab. "We were delighted to be ready and able to support key KAUST programs like hackathons, accelerators and winter camps, including the KAUST Innovation & Economic Development programs of TAQADAM and 'How to be a role model.'"

Pictured from left to right are Rolando L. Gepolio, a machinist in the Workshops Core Lab, and Ali M. Alfrshuti, a Prototyping Core Lab technician. Photo by Asharaf K. Abdulrahman.

A recent program participant was Alshammari Taref, inventor of "Fishing Capsules."

"I worked on my project called 'Fishing Capsules,'" Taref explained. "I could not have asked for a more helpful and creative environment. I like the idea of a first-hand learning experience to see, handle and manipulate real objects and materials while at the same time having experienced staff nearby that you can ask for help anytime. Thank you to KAUST for providing us with the latest cutting-edge facilities and equipment as well as trained and highly experienced staff."

"Prototyping is an essential part of the startup process here at KAUST," said Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of KAUST Innovation & Economic Development. "Many of our startups— like NOMADD and Sadeem—are technology-focused, and access to prototyping facilities has played a key role in their success. The Prototyping Core Lab supports the entrepreneurship ecosystem that we are creating here at KAUST and across the Kingdom. I look forward to many more entrepreneurs collaborating with experts in the facility to bring their ideas to life."

Tamer A. Shahin (left), lead of the Prototyping Core Lab, and Yasser AlOmrani (right), Prototyping Core Lab technician, talk to participants of the University's TAQADAM program on campus during a recent event. Photo by Andrea Bachofen-Echt.

"The Prototyping Core Lab is here to help you in materializing your ideas and creating a prototype of your invention. We are eager to see more innovators and creators at our facility," said LaVon Bennett, manager of the University's Central Workshops Core Lab. "New equipment such as the latest state-of-the-art waterjet cutter has now arrived, and a number of exciting new events, programs and competitions are being planned. Our goal is to offer a vibrant and dynamic environment that promotes collaboration, creativity and innovation in the KAUST community."

To become a member of the Prototyping Core Lab, click here.

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