Fab Academy: How to Make (Almost) Anything
I am happy to say that on the 29th of January 2020 I started a 6-month long course curated by Neil Gershenfeld from MIT.
It is a digital fabrication course that claims to teach you “How to make (almost) anything”… and boy is this true. (I’m not sure why there’s “almost” there.)
Neil doing a Ted talk back in 2007.
What it covers
The course covers anything you could want to know, from the now popular 3D scanning & printing, to molding and casting, through laser cutting and CNC milling, without omitting the world of electronics of course, with electronics design & production, embedded programming, interface and application programming and networking. I’m just scratching the surface here.
From that you can learn how to make apps that can control machines that you’ve designed, built and programmed yourself from scratch. You can build high quality prototypes of products. You can build a brand, a platform to show it. You can make furniture, cars, phones, the list is endless.
It maps out the tools and possibilities of today
You know these games where you have a little map in the corner, and at the beginning of the game it’s all black? You have to walk around to reveal it? (Below on the bottom right corner.)
This course is a torchlight that illuminates the map of knowledge.
The course shows you all the tools that exists today and what is possible to do with them. It explains concept that can be applied in different areas.
You can achieve a result using different tools adapted to your needs, and this course makes sure you know these tools exist. It shows you open source software, closed software, freeware and more.
It even teaches you how to build machines so you don’t have to buy machines worth 1000s of euros.
It is the Swiss Army knife of Making, except there’s no way that knife could fit in your pocket because of how complete it is.
It’s not just tools, it’s also a community
The great thing about Fab Academy is not only that you are learning from one of the best scientist in the world, but you learn from each other. You are studying with people coming from all around the world and completely different background. You have architects, programmers, video makers, designers and so much more. Everybody knows something better than the other and is happy to show the others.
On top of the class you are studying with, there is the rest of the network: 200+ students from all around the world also here happy to help you.
We have a Gitlab account where everybody ask each other questions, offers to collaborate… it’s an amazing place to build a team to work on your final project, but also on future projects.
You need some help with laws about radio communications in Iran? Ask your fellow Iranian makers. You need some help understanding documentation on some obscure electronics? Ask your new Chinese friends. Need some help with the characteristics of an indigenous plant from the Amazon? Ask your Brazilian counterpart for help.
The Fab Lab Network
It’s a truly amazing thing that has been built over the past 15-20 years. It started with The Center for Bits and Atoms at the MIT in Boston, Massachusetts, and ended with over 2000+ fab labs in every continent (not yet Antartica) of the world.
I can’t wait for the future
The future is here, and it’s only just started. I am very much looking forward to the future of the future, and how I’ll be part of it.