M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust continues investment in education with $1M to CITC for a Super Fab Lab

New lab will support more STEAM education for youth and entrepreneurs

The Super Fab Lab is part of a $10.5 million project to build a new youth services building at CITC.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded $1 million to Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) to build a Super Fab Lab that is four times the size of its current “fabrication laboratory.” The new, bigger and better lab will allow the tribal organization to support STEAM education for many more Anchorage youth and entrepreneurs as they create, build, innovate and turn ideas into reality. It will also be big enough to welcome adult entrepreneurs and makers for the first time.

“STEAM education is a crucial piece of learning for America’s youth, and we are grateful to organizations like CITC that are finding ways to increase access to it,” said Dana Miller, senior program director for grants programs, Murdock Trust. “By more than tripling Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fab Lab size, both urban and rural youth will have access to modern and traditional approaches to fabrication and creation. This project will grow their impact and build their capacity for the long term, and we are excited to see it come to life.”

The grant to CITC reflects the Murdock Trust’s continued investment in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Over the last 10 years, the Trust has contributed more than $40 million to nonprofits in Alaska through approximately 200 grants.

CITC’s fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab) is a culturally based digital fabrication resource center where students use high-tech design programs, industrial-grade manufacturing machines and electronic and programming tools to develop new solutions to practical problems and transform ideas into reality. It is a place to play, create, learn, mentor and invent using modern tools such as 3D printers, high-tech sewing machines, vinyl cutters, laser engravers, electronics work benches – plus accompanying computers and software for design, programming and machine communications.

“Our Super Fab Lab combines cutting-edge educational tools with traditional Alaska Native cultural values, strengths and knowledge,” said LeeAnn Cooper Garrick, Chief Operating Officer at CITC. “Here, students will merge modern tools with traditional concepts and understanding as they experiment with architecture, construction, programming, design and fabrication.

Examples of projects that youth have made at the Fab Lab include a qayaq – also known as a kayak – made with cutting-edge tools and materials but using traditional knowledge, measurements and techniques; handles for traditional Yup’ik dance fans; and a variety of traditional Alaska Native masks.

The new, larger lab will also allow CITC to serve entrepreneurs, makers and fabricators in Anchorage of all ages for the first time.

“This is a huge area of growth for the Fab Lab. Folks will be able to come and schedule a time to create a model or concept here, test it, and use it to secure investment in business ideas. CITC is excited to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with the opening of this amazing new facility in our community,” Garrick said.

CITC has multiple partners across Alaska that currently host 18 Innovation Stations, which include mini-Fab Labs delivered to remote communities for teachers or other youth leaders to provide a STEAM-based curriculum in their schools and facilities. The new Super Fab Lab in Anchorage will serve as a hub for the statewide Fab Lab network which is already expected to grow by two more Stations in 2023.

The Super Fab Lab is part of a $10.5 million project to build a new youth services building at CITC. Other funders include the Rasmuson Foundation, First National Bank, Enterprise Foundation, North Rim Bank, Wells Fargo and more.

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 8,300 grants totaling more than $1.3 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on their website.