New and Aspiring Labs: Basic Requirement
Basic Requirements for Fab Academy Participation
Here are the basic requirements and expectations for any Fab Lab that wishes to participate in the course, and become a Fab Academy Node.
Your lab MUST be equipped with the ALL necessary digital fabrication machines, electronics components and other supplies to be able to participate in the Academy. Labs that are not properly equipped are not eligible to participate in the Academy, as the students will not be able to complete the course.
As this is a bleeding edge program, hardware and electronics specification is continually being updated. For the most up-to-date list of recommended machines and supplies, see: the Fab Lab Inventory
It is important to understand that, in order to offer Fab Academy, the physical space and infrastructure is as important as the people instructing the course. Fab Labs need trained people in order to offer Fab Academy and this training is the program itself. To instruct Fab Academy you need to have taken Fab Academy.
To become a Fab Academy Node you need the following:
MACHINES, SUPPLIES & INFRASTRUCTURE
QUALIFIED STAFF to run the course
TO APPLY by filling the Nodes’ application form, to confirm the intention of any particular fab lab to run the course.
1. MACHINES, SUPPLIES & INFRASTRUCTURE
Necessary Machine Types
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.
Specific machine models (thoroughly tested and highly recommended but not required) are listed in the Fab Lab Inventory
Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors
Course-required surface mount electronics components
FR1 stock for machining circuit boards
Molding and casting supplies
Cardboard, sheet plywood and other consumable stock materials
Suggested lead time is 2 weeks in most places (allow for longer in remote locations) and reminders of what is needed within this 2 week window will be made during weekly prep meetings.
Internet connection (at least 1mb upload/download).
A common space for students to work comfortably
Access to the Fab Lab facilities for a minimum of 20 hs per week
Do I need these specific machines and electronic components?
Yes - you do.
In order to fully participate in the class you will need the electronics components and other supplies. Do not skimp on the electronics, about half the course utilizes these components.
In some rare cases, non-Fab Lab Inventory machines may be substituted, but this often causes serious problems for the students as the Academy Gurus are unable to support the unfamiliar machines remotely when things go wrong.
We recommend the machines in the inventory for a reason, we have found them to be reliable, affordable and able to perform the necessary course tasks. Other machine will be considered on a case-by-case basis if your lab applies to be a Fab Academy site (Node) .
It also violates the core Fab principle that "Fab labs share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them." - Neil Gershenfeld, Fab Lab FAQ
2. QUALIFIED STAFF
Fab Academy is a unique educational experience, not only based on the transmission of content but also in the kind of interactions that happen between Instructors, Mentors, and Students, in a peer-driven environment. This is why the experience of having done the course once is key to be able to run the course.
So, to offer the Fab Academy program in any Fab Lab, you need a person that graduated from the course before, a Fab Academy Graduate.
More details here
3. STUDENTS WORKGROUP
What is the maximum / minimum number of students in a local Fab Academy class?
Beyond a Local Instructor, a workgroup of students is required in order to create the necessary collaboration environment for a successful Fab Academy class.
We have found that it is (nearly) impossible for a student to complete the course on their own and workgroup ensures that one student’s strong suit may help make up for another student’s weak spots and vice versa.
Here are the general guidelines for Class Working Groups:
CRITICAL MASS NECESSARY: They are made up of a Local Instructor and at least 3 students or 3+ students and a Remote Guru.
PREVENTING INSTRUCTOR OVERLOAD: Groups larger than approximately 10 students per Local Instructor or Guru are not recommended, simply because there are not enough hours in the weekly cycle for each of those students to receive appropriate guidance from a single individual.
MACHINE LOGISTICS: In the case of multiple Local Instructors / Gurus in one lab, another 5 students can be enrolled for a recommended maximum of 15 students, as the problem now becomes a logistical one of students vs machines and machine time available (assuming standard inventory quantities).
REMOTE GURUS: Likewise, it is not recommended that Guru support more than 10 remote students and every attempt should be made to group remote students in such a way that Gurus do not have students in more than 2 remote locations.
4. APPLICATION PROCESS
All Fab Labs that want to participate in the Fab Academy cycle must fill the form every year.
The Instructor or Lab Coordinator must fill a form, published every year on the Fab Academy website
Node’s applications will be reviewed by senior Instructors (mentors) in order to assess their suitability to offer the program > Application does not mean Acceptance automatically.
Fab Labs will receive written confirmation of participation and will be added to the list of active Nodes on the Fab Academy website and the Student’s Application Form.
After a Node is accepted, it will start receiving the students applications
Applications for Nodes open from September to November, every year.
Novice Instructors (teaching the course for the first time) will be asked to undergo an application process as well, to assess their suitability to face the course:
To fill this application, Instructors will be asked to submit a Motivation letter. This letter should include some relevant and interesting insights about yourself, your technical skills, to prove that you are motivated.
Mentors will review the Instructor Application to assess their suitability to offer the program. Application does not mean Acceptance automatically.
Mentors may require extra information or documents to ensure all the requirements are met, and may also require a personal Interview (Via online conference)
Mentors will advise on the status of the Instructor and the need or not for extra support.