Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:


NOVA Fab Lab

Make-it in the Fab Lab.

Located in the Trailside Building at Northern Virginia Community College’s Manassas campus, the Fab Lab is a world class, state-of-the-art makerspace available to all NOVA students, faculty, staff, and the greater education community. The Fab Lab’s mission is to define and share a more wholistic experience in the Digital Fabrication arena by providing access to the most advanced fabrication processes, training in 3D modelling, and a foundation in the principals of Design Thinking and creative problem solving.  

You can access the Fab Lab by attending one of our workshops, demonstrations, and special events, or requesting a class collaboration, field trip, or tour. We also provide informal offerings such as our free open lab sessions for personal projects, and bi-annual design challenges and competitions for students. The Fab Lab staff are versed in a myriad of topics such as electronics and coding, operating fabrication equipment, design software, soft circuits, sewing, wood working, robotics, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and more. So, whatever you want to make, we can support you.

Come visit us today, we would love to show you around.

Current Offerings

Equipment at the Fab Lab

Fab Lab Equipment

To request a tour, email novafablab@nvcc.edu and use the subject “Tour Request”

Programs at the NOVA Fab Lab

NOVA Makers is a membership program, which opens the NOVA Fab Lab to  High School Students and NOVA Students, Faculty and Staff to work on personal projects during our Open Labs. 

How does it work?

NOVA Students, Faculty, and Staff

  1. Enroll in the NOVA Makers Course on Canvas
  2. On Canvas, pass the online Safety Orientation Certification & fill out the release form, which will make you an official member!
  3. Take online and in-person Machine Certifications (some certifications are offered fully online, while others are in-person with an online quiz component)
  4. Come-in during open lab hours to use machines and equipment you are certified on. If it is your first time using something or need some help, ask a NOVA Fab Lab Staff member for help.


High School Students

  1. Enroll in the High School NOVA Makers Course on Canvas
  2. On Canvas pass the online Safety Orientation Certification & fill out the release form
  3. Register in Active to pay your annual fee, which will make you an official member!
  4. Take online and in-person Machine Certifications (some certifications are offered fully online, while others are in-person with an online quiz component)
  5. Come-in during open lab hours to use machines and equipment you are certified on. If it is your first time using something or need some help, ask a NOVA Fab Lab Staff member for help.

Membership Fee

NOVA Students, Faculty and Staff - FREE
High School Students - $150 (annual fee)

Current Machine Certifications

NOVA Machine Certifications Image

You will receive a digital badge issued by Badgr when you complete each certification.

NOVA Maker Hours

Open Lab

Mon, Wed & Thurs | 5:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday |9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 5:00 - 9:30 p.m.


NOVA’s Junior Makers program creates a fun, social environment for our youngest generation of makers to be introduced to fabrication and to build confidence in their STEM and problem-solving skills! We offer a wide range of topics and activities for 4th - 8th grade students to create a unique project with their parent or guardian.

Spring sessions are now available on Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Workshop Offerings:

  • Laser-Cut Birdhouse: April 15 – $25 (FULL)
  • Animatronic Stuffed Animal: April 29 – $30 (FULL)

 Check back later for new offerings.

The Fab Lab works with NOVA classes to support projects, lessons, and relevant activities. Support and activities can be provided in-person in the actual lab, virtually, or as a hybrid approach.


Interested in discussing how the lab can support your class? If so, contact the Fab Lab at novafablab@nvcc.edu, 703.530.3505, or submit an interest form.

You can also find helpful design resources here.

In this one-week camp, participants will explore various ways to design and make objects. This introduction to fabrication involves using design software, solving design problems, and learning about fabrication tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers.  These concepts will be applied in a hands-on format in the form of design challenges throughout the week.

Sample Activities     

  • Design a product that converts a common household item into a toy or game
  • Design or revise a product that makes your school life easier


All fabrication camps are at the NOVA Manassas Campus. We are offering transportation to Manassas from our other NOVA Campuses. See dates and location below for transportation:

  • June 26-30 from NOVA Annandale and Loudoun Campuses
  • July 31-August 4 from NOVA Woodbridge and Alexandria Campuses

Register at: http://camp.novastem.us/register

We offer hands-on learning experiences to K-12 school groups (public, private, & homeschool). Many or our activities incorporate fabrication technologies, coding, science and math content, and the engineering design process. All field trips include:

  • A hands-on leveled Activity:
    • Level 1 - Upper Elementary (3rd-5th)
    • Level 2 - Middle School
    • Level 3 - High School 
  • Tour of the Fab Lab (Makerspace, Woodshop, Mechatronics Lab, Electronics Lab, and Flex Lab).

Field Trip Activity Options

  1. Earthquake Simulators and Building Design - Students build earthquake simulators from robot parts, design and build a 3D structure, and test the earthquake resistance of those structures. Applied concepts and skills include plate tectonics, the engineering design process, and block coding. Base price of $150/group plus $5/student.
  2. Mini-Greenhouse Builds - Students build miniature greenhouses that can be taken home or used for extension activities (plant experiments, 3D printed add-ons, etc.) back in the classroom. Applied concepts and skills include carpentry, hand tool use (miter saw, square, canary scissors, hammer), and plastic thermoforming. Base price of $150/group plus $15/student.

For more information or to schedule a field trip, contact the NOVA Fab Lab at novafablab@nvcc.edu or 703.530.3505 or via our Field Trip Request Form.

NOVA Fab Lab Design Challenge - Spring 2023

The challenge for Spring 2023 is to design an upcycled product linked to your community.

The Brief

Upcycling is creative reuse; it is the process of taking something considered as "junk" and transforming it into something useful and often beautiful. Upcycling reveals how we can reuse everyday objects and think critically and creatively about the world around us. In the past, we have seen plastic bags woven into rugs, swings made with old tires, bike racks made from scrap bike parts, and furniture crafted from shipping pallets. How can the functional objects, structures, and spaces in your community be reimagined through upcycling or what useful, upcycled product can you provide your community?

Important Dates

Wednesday, March 15 - Design Submission Portal Opens
Sunday, April 30 - Design Submission Portal Closes
Tuesday, May 16 - Finalists will be Announced
June - Award Ceremony


Divisions are: Middle School, High School, and Post-Secondary.

Grand Champion - $1,000 and we will fabricate a scale model of your design.
Division Champions* - $500
Division Honorable Mentions* - $250

*Divisions are: Middle School, High School, and Post-Secondary.

Submit your entry

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What kind of materials can be upcycled?
Almost anything! Plastics, wood, metal, paper, rubber, foams, fabrics, and fibers. A few specific examples would be plastic bottles, tin or aluminum cans, Styrofoam packaging materials, old air hoses, plastic tubing, or pipes, you can even reclaim building materials like doors, windows, and flooring.

Can I use more than one material?
Yes, you must use at least one "junk” material, but can include as many as you would like.

How do I know what objects, structures, or spaces to consider?
Go for a walk in your community, look all around you for inspiration. How can you add sustainability and attractiveness to your neighborhood?

Does the entire design need to be made from old or unwanted materials?
The primary material(s) should be upcycled, but you can include new components if they are necessary for function or safety.

Is there a size limitation for my design?
No. Choose the size that best fits your design.

Can the function of my design be aesthetics only?
Yes, improving the attractiveness of an area or an object is a function.

How do I submit my project?
You will submit your design solution digitally via our Entry Form at   http://fablab.novastem.us/DesignChallenge

Do I have to physically build my design?
No. In fact, we are not accepting physical objects, only a written description and graphical component. You will submit your design via our Entry Form at   http://fablab.novastem.us/DesignChallenge

Do I have to be a NOVA Community College student to participate?
No. Any student attending a middle school, high school, or college/university in the continental US can participate.

I am a homeschool student in middle school, can I participate?
Yes. Any middle school, high school, or college student attending a public, private, or homeschool can participate.

Submission Requirements

All entries must be submitted online at:   http://fablab.novastem.us/DesignChallenge.

The Entry Form will walk you through the required components which will include:

  2. WRITTEN DESCRIPTION (500 words maximum)
    1. Describe the object, structure, or space that you are designing through upcycling.
    2. Describe the material(s) that you would use for the upcycling process.
    3. Explain how your design works and how it would benefit the community.
  3. GRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION -  Include at least one visual representation of your design such as: a digitized hand drawing/sketch, a CAD file (stl), a vector file (svg), a photo, a video (include link to video in a document or PDF - cannot upload actual video), or another digital format. * Uploaded files must be PDF, JPEG, PNG, STL, SVG, SKP, DOC, DOCX, or OBJ file types. Maximum size of each file is 10 MB. A maximum of three files can be uploaded.

Judging Criteria

How unique is your idea?
Did you transform your upcycled material?

Is your design aesthetically pleasing?

Can the design be built?
Is it safe for the general public?

What function does your project provide to the community?
How many people will benefit from your design?

Rules & Regulations

  1. The Challenge is open to anyone enrolled in middle school, high school, or a post-secondary (college/university) educational institute within the continental USA.
  2. For those under 18 years of age, parental consent is required at the time of project submission via the electronic entry form.
  3. Only 1 entry per person is permitted, or teams with up to 3 total members.
  4. If any one person submits multiple entries or is a member of more than one team, both designs will be disqualified.
  5. The Challenge is not open to employees of Northern Virginia Community College, judges or any of their families, and employees of the NOVA Fab Lab Design Challenge sponsors.
  6. Competitors presenting work that is not their own will be disqualified.
  7. Once judging has been completed, an awards ceremony will be held for competitors, winners, VIPs, guests, and judges.

Terms & Conditions

  • Agree to be bound by the decisions of the judges.
  • Warrant that you are eligible to participate.
  • Warrant that the submission is your original work.
  • Warrant, to the best of your knowledge, your design is not, and has not been in production or otherwise previously published or exhibited.
  • Warrant neither the product nor its use infringes the intellectual property rights (whether a patent, utility model, functional design right, aesthetic design right, trademark, copyright, or any other intellectual property right) of any other person.
  • Warrant participation shall not constitute employment, assignment or offer of employment, or assignment.
  • Agree participation does not entitle to compensation or reimbursement for any costs.
  • Agree Northern Virginia Community College and all affiliates have the right to promote all entries and winners.
  • Winners will be contacted by NOVA Fab Lab staff to get their contact information and any other information needed.
  • Winning individuals will be required to collect prize(s) at a chosen NOVA campus and agree to be photographed with their winning designs.
  • Winners agree to the following NOVA Fab Lab/NOVA Community College Graphics Release:

I hereby give the right to take, use, publish, display, broadcast, or print – in any media –   photographs, slides, digital images, films, and audio or video recordings made in conjunction   with the Fab Lab, to the full extent in which I am included. I understand that such sounds, images, and video may be used for instruction, promotion, advertising, and any other lawful purpose.undefined

Questions? Email  novafablab@nvcc.edu (use the subject heading "2023 Design Challenge") 

Fab Lab Grants

The National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored program is open to middle and high school teachers, informal STEM learning professionals, and college faculty. Complex problems require innovative and creative solutions. Design thinking is the key to challenging assumptions and approaching problem solving in a collaborative, interdisciplinary and non-linear way.

Design Thinking Fellows Will:

  • Complete a 5-day Professional Learning (PL) Institute in Spring 2023 at NOVA's Fab Lab.
  • Practice teaching PL topics at a 1-week fabrication summer camp.
  • Participate in the Fall 2023 Fab Lab Design Challenge.
  • Create lesson plans for sharing to digital repository focused on design thinking and digital fabrication.
  • Receive a $2,200 stipend for participation.

Applications for the 2023 cohort have already been accepted. 2024 program information sessions and application will be made available in November 2023. 

Sign up for our newsletter to keep up with program announcements.

This NSF-sponsored incubator is open to any NOVA student with a preference for students program-placed in IET, Business, or Art. During this spring and summer program, students will work in small interdisciplinary groups to develop and pitch an idea for a new product or service. This is an opportunity for students to learn collaboration and communication skills, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, and expand their professional networks.

Selected students will:

  • Attend 6 spring entrepreneurship workshops to develop their initial product idea
  • Spend early summer fabricating their products in the NOVA Fab Lab
  • Formally pitch their product to a group of regional entrepreneurs and professionals
  • Receive a total stipend of $3,000 for participation

Applications for the 2023 cohort have already been accepted. 2024 program information sessions and application will be made available in November 2023.

Sign up for our newsletter to keep up with program announcements.


See Fabrication Resources below:

See Fabrication Resources below:

The staff at NOVA’s Fab Lab wanted to do their part during the COVID-19 crisis by manufacturing DIY face shields for the citizens on the front lines. When the Fab Lab closed in March 2020 (until re-opening in July 2021), we knew our portable equipment would struggle to keep up with demand, so we designed two different versions that could be made simultaneously on different machines. 

  • Version 1 appropriates the excellent Budmen™ design which can be made on our portable 3D printers.
  • Version 2 is our own design created entirely from cast acrylic and cut by laser.

By adopting and creating two different designs we were able to significantly increase our production goals. Our PPE utilizes press-in clips from waste materials, eliminating the need for glue.

Both designs are completely open source and free to use. See our PPE website https://nvccppe.wixsite.com/fablab/ steminar for design files, images, videos, and more information on making PPE Face Shields.


For questions email Fab Lab Team at NovaFabLab@nvcc.edu.