An announcement about the new facility was made Wednesday morning at the site, 333 E. Brandeis Ave., before a crowd of nearly 200 people.

The 35,000-square-foot FirstBuild operation is scheduled to open this summer. It is a partnership among GE, UofL and Local Motors, a Phoenix-based open-source hardware innovator.

At FirstBuild, UofL students and researchers will have the opportunity to collaborate with GE engineers, workers from Local Motors and people from the community to innovate and accelerate the production of kitchen appliances. The micro-factory will include a showroom, kitchen demonstration area, metal and wood shops and lounge areas.

“The University of Louisville is excited to be expanding our collaboration with GE,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Together, we’re finding new ways to grow technologies and our economy while giving our students real-world engineering experiences.”

The first set of projects at FirstBuild will focus on the future of cooking. Those working in the FirstBuild community will work to refine existing GE products and create new designs. Local community members interested in being involved with the project can learn more at

“In just a few months, this will be a thriving hub of innovation, collaboration and making,” GE Appliances President and CEO Chip Blankenship said during the April 16 announcement. “FirstBuild encompasses a new model of global co-creation and micro-manufacturing that will enable us to innovate and build new products faster than ever before.”

For UofL and GE, FirstBuild also is the latest step in an effort to create an advanced manufacturing hub called the Institute for Product Realization near the university’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering. The institute will be a place where students can conduct research while getting practical training on the latest additive manufacturing and technologies in a micro-factory setting.

For video of announcement, see


John Karman, III
John Karman joined the Office of Communications and Marketing in 2014 after a 20-plus year career as a Louisville journalist. He has served as director of media relations since 2015. In that role, he answers reporters’ inquiries and is the university’s main spokesperson. John was a reporter for Business First of Louisville from 1999 to 2013. There, he won numerous awards from the Louisville chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists and American City Business Journals, parent company to Business First. John can die happy after seeing the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series, although he would also enjoy another title.