TICE Creative Enterprise visits the FabLab and Sunderland Enterprise Place!


Silver Stage Creative Enterprise workshop  – South Shields Community School

The first of two-day Silver Stage Creative Enterprise workshops saw 25 Year 9 students from South Shields Community School gathering at the FabLab Sunderland, a digital fabrication space incorporating 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters which opened in November 2015. The aim of the Silver Stage is to take students out into industry environments to gain practical, informative hands on experience.


The morning began with a tour of the FabLab studio by Tony Canning, FabLab Sunderland Manager and in every sense of the word a ‘Guru’ on all things digital manufacturing!  Explanations and demonstrations of the 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters were given with examples of the different types of products and their uses illustrated.  These printers could be used in manufacturing, design and graphics to help companies communicate final engineering ideas with realistic product proto-types.


Following the tour, teams were formed and Jenny Barrett, TICE Managing Director with Lee Casey course mentor set a task to come up with a product which could be made using the materials and machines available within the FabLab to take back to school to use in a lesson of their choice, across any age to aid learning.   All within a 2-hour time frame!!!


Teams brainstormed three initial ideas, working together researching and discussing the merits and feasibility of each idea with the FabLab team on hand to answer any questions before deciding on their final idea to make.

It was all systems go as machines whirred into action laser cutting plywood and plastic as ideas were transferred from paper to laptop to machine.


Initial ideas thought of as relatively simple in design proved more complicated in manufacture.  One team decided on a Colour Wheel they could use for young children to help identify their primary colours and when mixed the subsequent secondary colours.  Time constraints however eliminated using plastics and so with the patient help of Fab Lab whizz Carl a colour wheel was made using a pre-printed digital image and over lay of a circular piece of plywood.


Other ideas developed from concept to product included a ‘Volcanic Core’, a spinning ‘History Wheel’, an ‘Auschwitz camp’ map and an innovative way to explain the offside rule.


Following lunch and a short walk across to The Enterprise Place, the afternoon session got under way with introductions by Laura Foster, Manager at The Enterprise Place explaining how it works by renting space to new businesses started by students or graduates of the University of Sunderland.

Pippa Christie, Marketing Officer at The Enterprise Place discussed her role too before three young entrepreneurs; all graduates of the University of Sunderland were introduced.


Dan started Media Savvy, a video production company and talked about his route into self-employment recognising the valuable experience gained through earlier employment at Sunderland Football Club and recommending students ‘Don’t be shy in talking to a range of people to gain advice.’

International graduate Rosario started an animation company Purple Kyloe as a freelance animator in motion graphics and digital animation, crediting The Enterprise Place for helping her develop her business idea and provide the necessary support.


Creative Director of Northern Bear Films, Jerome, spoke of his initial dream to be an engineer but pursuing a ‘Creative Industry Practices’ course at the University of Sunderland evoked an enthusiasm for design and said to the students, “choose a career whereby you can chase your passion, not the money as the money will come.”  Although based in the North East, Jerome travels across the UK delivering projects to a range of industry sectors.

Now the TICE Creative Enterprise journey continues with the opportunity to go to the second Silver Stage workshop, including a visit to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland and hearing from guest speakers from The Princes Trust.