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Lowell– In recent weeks, Lowell-based nonprofit Kids in Tech has taken students from their three program sites in Lowell: Moody Elementary School, Lowell Housing Authority and Coalition for a Better Acre on a series of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) field trips. Most recently to the UMass Lowell Fabric Discovery Center (FDC) where students had the opportunity to explore the Center’s Fashion Makerspace.

Upon arrival, Tech Club students were introduced to some high-tech equipment and toured the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center. They also had the opportunity to make glow in the dark gloves and chat with Fashion Makerspace staff about pursuing a career in STEM.

“It’s an honor to have groups like Kids in Tech visit us at the Fabric Discovery Center because they’re the future of our world,” said Diana Coluntino, Fashion Makerspace Director at the Fabric Discovery Center. “The more curiosity that they have now the more experience they’ll gain in creating and thinking and developing ideas for future use.”

Available to startups, small businesses and large companies, the 28,000 square foot research center is located in a renovated mill building at 110 Canal Street in Lowell. UMass Lowell opened the FDC in July 2018 with support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and three Manufacturing USA Institutes – Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) and Flexible Hybrid Electronics (NextFlex) – with Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) as a contributor.

The goals of the FDC are to drive innovation in functional fabrics, boost economic competitiveness, inspire creativity and increase the amount of high paying jobs in the Merrimack Valley region.

“Visiting the Fabric Discovery Center and Makerspace continues to highlight an important element of our after tech club program which is that we continue to ensure that we make connections to various tech careers for students by conducting a series of field trips,” said Olu Ibrahim, founder of Kids in Tech. “Drawing upon Lowell’s history as a textile manufacturing hub, the Center continues that tradition today by developing new technologies that provide added value to the fashion and other industries whether it is the fabric that lights up or changes color or fabrics that gather energy from the environment by sound or heat to name a few. Our students now know they too can enter the smart textile space in the near future. It also great to see the University leading the way with applied research in this space and our students get a front row seat to it.”