IAAC - Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
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Fab-Lab - Educational Programs

Educational Programs

The Fab Academy will provide instruction and supervise investigation of mechanisms, applications, and implications of digital fabrication.

Like the earlier digitization of communication and computation, the digitization of fabrication is bringing the programmability of the digital world to the physical world. The research roadmap is leading to the development of a universal replicator that will eventually be able to make almost anything (included itself), by programming the assembly of functional materials. Field "fab labs" are providing early access to these capabilities, through prototype tools for personal fabrication. They are analogous to the historical role of the minicomputers that came between mainframes and PCs; fab labs, like minicomputers, have a cost and complexity within reach of a workgroup, allowing their applications to reflect the interests of individuals rather than institutions.

The possibility that anyone can make anything anywhere challenges an assumption of scarcity that has been implicit in the organzation of advanced technical education and research. Research infrastructure that was once restricted to elite institutions is now available in a fab lab. The students and teachers that have studied in these institutions can now be connected by broadband video wherever they are. And the content in libraries can be shared through online repositories of research articles and instructional material. Instead of traveling to a distant campus, or connecting remote sites for distance learning from a central hub, a global network of local labs can itself become a distributed campus. This is the mission of the Fab Academy.

The Fab Academy emerged from the experience of students who had exhausted local educational opportunities and came to fab labs for informal, peer-to-peer, project-based technical education, mentored by a growing group of faculty from around the world. To meet this demand, the Fab Academy will initially focus on a vocational FAB diploma aimed at employment certification, then a Bologna-style Bachelors degree for specialized study, and finally post-graduate research leading to more advanced degrees.

The FAB diploma will cover relevant aspects of physical science, computer science, engineering and design, including materials selection and characterization, additive and subtractive fabrication processes, CAD/CAM/CAE, circuit design and assembly, sensors and actuators, embedded and application programming, networking and algorithms, as well as models for managing businesses and intellectual property. Study of these areas will be integrated through a hands-on project focus on producing functional systems, and be driven by the rate of skills progression rather than a fixed schedule.

Fab labs began as an outreach project from MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; the FAB diploma is roughly equivalent to passing the rapid-prototyping course "How To Make (almost) Anything" at MIT. Fab Academy instructors will initially be drawn from collaborating faculty at existing educational institutions, however the accreditation for these degrees will be through the Fab Academy itself. Classes will be taught via networked video to students in fab labs around the world, with collaboratively developed online instructional material. Because there is no international accreditation, the Fab Academy will undertake applicable local and regional accreditation procedures, however the program content will be shared across these.

The Fab Academy in turn will work with the non-profit Fab Foundation to provide operational capacity to support invention as aid, and the for-profit Fab Fund to help global capital find local inventors and local inventions find global markets. Together, these organizations form an ecosystem to enable learning, living, and working in a world of personal fabrication.

The Fab Academy application is available here.

The Fab Academy is directed by Neil Gershenfeld, produced by Vincent Guallart and Sherry Lassiter, and coordinated by Tomás Diez. The Fab Academy professors, who are leaders in their respective fields, provide global video conferences, oversee the academic content, and guide research. The practical training in laboratories is provided by the local specialists to monitor and evaluate, help with practical projects, and communicate finished products. 

  • Digital Fabrication Principles and Practices (Jan 23)
  • Collaborative Technical Development, Documentation, and Project Management (Jan 23 ALSO)
  • Computer-Aided Design, Manufacturing, and Modeling (Jan 30)
  • Comptuter-Controlled Cutting (Feb 6th)
  • Electronics Production (Feb 13)
  • Computer-Controlled Machining (Feb 20)
  • Electronics Design (Feb 27)
  • Molding, Casting and Composites (Mar 6)
  • Embedded Programming (Mar 13)
  • 3D Scanning and Printing (Mar 20)
  • Input Devices (Mar 27)
  • Interface and Application Programming (Apr 3)
  • Output Devices (Apr 10)
  • Mechanical Design (Apr 17)
  • Embedded Networking and Communications (Apr 24)
  • Machine Design (May 1)
  • Digital Fabrication Applications and Implications (May 8)
  • Digital Fabrication Project Development (May 15)
  • Invention, Intellectual Property, and Business Models (May 22)
  • Final Project Presentations (May 29)


To apply visit the website: Fab Academy

or send your questions to: coordination@fabacademy.org