The Fab Academy teaches principles and applications of digital fabrication
The role of Fab Academy is to initiate, mentor and technically train new students for participation and leadership in the global Fab Lab Network community.
It’s how we train our teachers.
It’s also a great way to gain exposure to a wide variety of digital fabrication, electronics, molding and casting and composites practices and build skills in a short amount of time (typically 19 weeks).
It’s not for the faint of heart but the rewards are great.
How did it start?
Fab Academy was developed to teach hands-on skills in fab labs, which began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, and has grown into a global network of more than 500 labs. Fab Academy instruction is based on MIT’s popular rapid-prototyping course How To Make (almost) Anything, both taught by Prof. Neil Gershenfeld.
How does it work?
- The program takes place from mid January to late June
- Every week, prof. Neil Gershenfeld holds a global lecture on a different topic
- Instructors in local labs provide hands-on activities on the topic, and offer their practical knowledge to help students develop the week's assignment
- Students work on the assignment using lab materials, equipment and machines, immediately applying all the concepts covered in the global and local classes. All the materials are included in the tuition fees.
- Students document their progress in a personal blog hosted in the Fab Academy Archive
- In parallel to the weekly assignments, students work on a personal final project which will integrate mastery of all the skills learned during the course
- Students who complete all modules and final project go through a global evaluation process that leads to the Fab Academy Diploma
What will I learn?
In few words: design, digital fabrication, electronics, software and everything in between.
Every Wednesday Fab Academy focuses on a different topic, giving a global view of everything related to digital fabrication:
- Principles and practices of digital fabrication
- Project management
- Computer aided design
- Computer controlled cutting
- Electronics production
- 3D Scanning and printing
- Electronics design
- Computer controlled machining
- Embedded programming
- Mechanical design
- Machine design
- Input Devices
- Molding and Casting
- Output devices
- Networking and communications
- Interface and application programming
- Applications and implications of digital fabrication
- Invention, intellectual property and income
- Project development
- Project presentation
What machines will I learn to use?
- A computer-controlled laser cutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts.
- A large (4'x8') numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture (and larger) sized parts.
- A vinyl cutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas.
- A desktop sized precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards.
- A 3D Scanner and a 3D Printer
- Specific machine models (thoroughly tested and highly recommended but not required) are listed in the Fab Lab Inventory
What should I know before starting Fab Academy
You should be able to use a computer and have basic knowledge of some of the topics discussed in the course. Global sessions and some labs local sessions are in english. You should also be able to understand, speak and write fluent English. Some labs offer pre-academy classes to bring you up to speed to the course before it starts. Confirm with you local lab.
Where can I follow the course?
Fab Academy requires you to attend the lectures and local sessions in a Fab Academy node during the whole course, which is a fab lab with the required materials and resources to complete the program. Luckily the Fab Lab Network is present all over the world and you can find a Fab Academy Node nearby to follow the classes. The following countries host Fab Academy nodes: Netherlands, Spain, UK, Iceland, Finland, Italy, France, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, India, New Zeeland, USA, Canada, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Israel and Russia, but you can check the complete list of Fab Academy 2017 Nodes here: http://fabacademy.org/2017-nodes-supernodes/
How much time does it take?
The time commitment is about 16+ hours a week at minimum, but could be far greater if the student is highly motivated, does not possess the background for a particular unit (or units) or just wants to really throw themselves into the program.
Fab Academy Diploma costs 5000 (USD/EUR). The currency is determined by local lab.
Included in the costs:
- All the basic course materials
- Personal space in Fab Academy Archive with lifetime access and maintenance
- Live access to the Fab Academy Video Conferencing system (MCU) and faculty
- Access to all recorded lectures and reviews
- 15 hours a week of hands-on Fab Lab access and personal instruction
- Use of the lab equipment and facilities
- Free access to the Annual FAB conference and diploma award ceremony (graduated students only)
- Free software licenses for selected Autodesk and Solidworks software packages during the course
- Lifetime membership to the Fab Academy Alumni group
You can apply for a partial grant or a scholarship to your local lab, often provided in exchange of some work contribution to the lab.
Is there any accreditation?
The Fab Academy Diploma will be issued by a distributed Global Evaluation Committee after satisfactorily completing the course of study in the Principles and Applications of Digital Fabrication. Individual certificates will also be issued for students successfully completing individual topics.
Will Fab Academy help me find a job?
Many Fab Academy graduates improved their career opportunities after taking the program. There's high demand in the job market for talented digital fabrication experts and fab lab managers, but the knowledge offered by the course can be applied to any profession requiring rapid prototyping. Many graduates also started their own businesses offering locally produced design objects, toys, training services and consulting.
Take a look at the opportunities available at http://jobs.fabeconomy.com as a reference for jobs coming from the Fab Lab Network.
To contact Fab Academy global coordination: email@example.com
If your questions are related with admissions to the Fab Academy: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Fab Labs: www.fablabs.io/labs
To contact Fab Foundation: email@example.com
To apply for Fab Academy as a Student: http://fabacademy.org/machform/view.php?id=19042
To apply for Fab Academy as a Node (fab lab): http://fabacademy.org/machform/view.php?id=17338