Just a few short months after it was established, the 3D-Kompetenzzentrum Niederrhein, our centre for expertise in 3D printing technology, had accomplished one of its most important goals: bringing Fab Academy to Germany. This five-month intensive course is based on a wildly successful lecture held by the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Fab Academy is linked internationally and promises to teach students “How to make (almost) anything”.
Neil Gershenfeld, MIT professor and founder of the FabLab movement, directs this international digital fabrication academy. His lectures are broadcast from MIT straight to the FabLabs of the project partners. Collaboration is made possible by a virtual campus connecting Fab Academy students in a network of more than 30 countries world-wide. Projects are planned, realised and supervised in each FabLab, and the results shared and discussed in the global network.
DIY (do it yourself) takes on a whole new meaning for those in the Fab Academy. They learn the ins and outs of 3D design and printing, learn how to use computer-controlled fabrication machines and explore the use of different production materials. At the same time, participants also develop their skills in electrical engineering and computer science. The course strives to give each participant the tools needed to create a functional prototype of his or her project idea. Along the way, students acquire the skills and knowledge that play a decisive role in Industry 4.0.
FabLab Kamp-Lintfort itself plays a special role. As a “supernode” it’s the central point of contact for all participating FabLabs in Germany. The tuition-based Fab Academy is open not only to students, but also to companies and other education institutions. Graduates receive a certificate, the Fab Academy Diploma, in recognition of their hard work and ingenuity.
In Fab Academy, material is taught successively, building upon the previous weeks. Students meet every week to watch Neil Gershenfeld’s live lecture and discuss their projects with their fellow makers from around the world. In hands-on time outside of the lecture, students work on their projects with individual support from their FabLab staff. This intense mix of study and hands-on work is a defining characteristic of the Fab Academy.
Everyone can do it and build (almost) anything! Fab Academy Archive 2009-2018
• Week 1: Digital Fabrication Principles and Practices
• Week 2: Computer-aided Design, Manufacturing and Modelling
• Week 3: Computer-controlled Cutting
• Week 4: Electronics Production
• Week 5: 3D Scanning and Printing
• Week 6: Electronics Design
• Week 7: Computer Controlled Machining
• Week 8: Embedded Programming
• Week 9: Mechanical Design
• Week 10: Output Devices
• Week 11: Machine Design
• Week 12: 3D Molding and Casting
• Week 13: Input Devices
• Week 14: Composites
• Week 15: Networking and Communications
• Week 16: Interface and Application Programming
• Week 17: Digital Fabrication Applications and Implications
• Week 18: Invention, Intellectual Property, and Business Models
• Week 19: Digital Fabrication Project Development
• Week 20: Project Presentation