White House set to honor Tulsa man as ‘Champion of Change’

OKLAHOMA CITY – President Barack Obama will, on Tuesday (July 23), honor Oklahoman Scott Phillips as a “Champion of Change” – recognizing his work for “open government and civic hacking,” the White House office of communications says. Phillips serves on the board of directors for Fab Lab of Tulsa, which he co-founded in 2008.

In a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK, the White House said, “The Champions being honored tomorrow have made a tremendous positive impact by building high-tech tools to help health workers and disaster-response crews better serve communities; piloting innovative programs to involve traditionally disengaged communities in local governance; using new technologies to enhance government transparency and collaboration; and more.”

The president, unveiling a management agenda this month, said, “… We the people recognize that this government belongs to us, and it’s up to each of us and every one of us to make it work better…We all have a stake in government success — because the government is us.”

The administration describes Champions of Change as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future Initiative.” The program will highlight individuals, businesses and groups, the administration said Monday, “whose extraordinary stories and accomplishments positively impact our communities.”

Fab Lab of Tulsa is a 501c 3 not-for-profit corporation with a volunteer board.

Fab Lab’s facility on South Lewis Street in Tulsa provides fabrication technology for the general public, and support for prototyping. The building includes meeting space, a computer lab, machinery workstations and a machine room. Machine time can be purchased at varying rates, with the intention the location is treated as a “starter project.”

Certain equipment is only available for use after mandatory orientation and safety training; other equipment is accessible only after certification. Certain basic materials for fabrication are provided at no charge for members “to support small projects, create prototypes, and kick start new and larger projects.” 

The facility allows work primarily with non-metals, such as wood, plastic, foam, wax, paper, vinyl and resin. 

According to Fab Lab’s website, “Fab Lab Tulsa does not manufacture products. We are a self-serve, public-use community fabrication workshop. We offer space and advanced machinery that the public could not otherwise access so that they may fabricate their own projects. Fab Lab Tulsa does not manufacture parts for the public, design parts for the public, consult the public on their designs, or perform research for the public.”

Further, “Fab Lab Tulsa is intended for personal fabrication, experimentation, and rapid prototyping and designed for single projects or small batch production. The lab is not designed for mass production.”

Naming sponsor for “Fab Lab” was the Hardesty Family Foundation. The facility’s work is supported by the Jeff and Marcy Gettys Charitable Trust, Bank of Oklahoma Foundation, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Sharna & Irvin Frank Foundation, Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, the Collaboratorium and other organizations.

A variety of local private and government partners have worked with Fab Lab Tulsa, including the city-county library system, the Tulsa Engineering Foundation, Philbrook Museum, San Miguel Middle School, University of Tulsa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tulsa Public Schools, the Kendall Whittier (neighborhood) Main Street, and the Street School. 

Phillips is a native Tulsan, who attended Holland Hall prep school. He garnered a B.S. and M.S. from Northwestern University. He has worked for Saturn Corporation and spoken nationally on Alternative Fueled Vehicle Technology. In 1999, Phillips co-founded Isocentric Networks, a web hosting and collocation services provider. 

Tuesday’s event can be viewed online at 10 a.m. ET: visit www.whitehouse.gov/live.

You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.