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From public libraries to coatings know-how: coming together to learn and collaborate.

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On a recent trip to Chicago, my family and I made a point of visiting one of our favorite places in the city--the Harold Washington Public Library. Not exactly a highly sought-after tourist spot like Navy Pier or "the Bean," the library is located in the city's South Loop on State Street. In 1987, Chicago received funding to build a central library in the area, and a highly publicized design competition was held to decide on its architecture. It was that imposing architecture that first attracted us to the building. Even more remarkable, however, are the eight impressive floors of resources that we found within.

On this past trip, we discovered the library's "Maker Lab"--the city's first free and publicly accessible maker space. The lab, which offers free workshops and classes, is equipped with advanced digital design software, multiple 3-D printers, and laser and electronic cutters. According to the library's website, the lab was started in July 2013 as a six-month experiment to explore the role of the library in "community operated workspaces where people come together to learn, create, and collaborate." Thanks to a grant from the Motorola Mobility Foundation, this popular resource still continues.

What drew us into the room were the bank of 3-D printers and design samples that were on display throughout the space. What kept us there for quite some time were the enthusiastic students and adults who were taking advantage of the easily accessible technical programs and equipment. One student showed off the complex three-dimensional models he had made, including a "brain slice" that he and fellow students had developed from an MRI. What was most exciting, however, was the collaborative spirit of discovery in the room.

Among his wonderfully pithy statements, Benjamin Franklin noted, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Truly the city fathers (and sisters) of Chicago and other urban areas that are trying to provide equally inspirational resources understand the urgent need for such investments, regardless of shrinking budgets and often complicated politics.

That same spirit of collaboration and learning is one that we hope to foster at the upcoming Coatings Tech Conference, to be offered in March 2017 in Cleveland. Like its namesake, Coatings Tech magazine, the conference is dedicated to the goal of serving as an educational forum for the exchange of information on coatings. The organizers of the 2017 event are developing a truly unique program that will engage participants from all areas of the supply chain.

In addition to the sought-after technical papers and award competition presentations that have become a highlight of ACA-sponsored conferences, this program will provide insights, not only on critical research, but also on applying that research to develop commercially viable products--highlighting the tools and technologies used to identify market needs and how to apply coatings science to address them. Specially designed Short Courses, profiled in this issue, will offer training on fundamentals and emerging developments. A Call for Papers for the technical conference has been issued, and all those interested in collaborating, learning, and creating something special in the world of coatings are encouraged to participate. It may be one of the most beneficial investments you can make!

PATRICIA D. ZIEGLER, Editor-in-Chief, CoatingsTech

pziegler@paint.org
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Title Annotation:Perspective
Author:Ziegler, Patricia D.
Publication:JCT CoatingsTech
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Aug 1, 2016
Words:539
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