The Robert C. Byrd Institute, better known as RCBI, delivers innovative solutions with technology to advance manufacturing and entrepreneurship. As a core component of its services, RCBI promotes STEM engagement and encourages students to consider careers in these in-demand fields. It delivers direct STEM outreach to more than 6,200 children each year through on-site visits and school tours, as well as a popular series of Maker Camps that feature 3D printing, robotics, and computer coding. RCBI also assists innovators who want to transform learning and making.
Its annual Maker Camps offer students a hands-on way to explore exciting technology by customizing and making their own concepts and designs. Campers gain firsthand experience in 3D design, 3D printing, assembly, coding, soldering, basic electronics, electromagnetism, and hydraulics. Another fun aspect for campers includes the opportunity to explore careers in manufacturing and technology as they tour a local business, startup, or production facility and interact with a local entrepreneur. An engaging set of activities exposes campers to an entrepreneurial mindset and opens their eyes to new approaches and possibilities, building experience and confidence. A Maker Fest gives campers an opportunity to share their creations, and all they’ve learned, with their parents, families and friends!
To engage young minds as well as everyday people from artists and engineers to tinkerers, RCBI created and hosts the West Virginia Makes Festival. This annual event – staged the first Friday of each October to coincide with national Manufacturing Day – celebrates creativity and ingenuity in all forms. RCBI also is a designated a member of the West Virginia Maker Network and one of the state’s first official makerspaces that encourages members of the community to create and make.
Housed in a former vault – a holdover from the days when the Huntington building was home to a bank – RCBI’s makerspace is stocked with tools and technology that includes an X-Carve CNC router, 3D printers, a vacuum form mold, and a vinyl cutter. RCBI’s Maker Vault provides the community with a makerspace to experiment, develop, and learn through self-led projects and group workshops. Making high-end professional equipment and materials affordable for all, the Maker Vault extends RCBI’s support of innovation and entrepreneurship to everyone, giving a retired bank vault new life as a repository of ideas and creativity for everyone.