Another year, another Fab Academy. Sitting in the anatomical theatre in the Waag building, we watched as intrepid makers from from Seoul to Nairobi presented the results of their hard work to the home Fablab at MIT. This year, over fifty Fablabs from around the globe tuned in to demonstrate their creations via webcam. And, the projects were as strange and wonderful as ever. We saw everything from electronic bull controllers and watches that display the time in binary to poetry machines and open-source sex toys. If you're a mad scientist, get off the train—this is your stop.
FabLab Amsterdam's Fab Academy had nine students this semester—seven of whom presented their final projects and graduated: Frank Vloet, Joseph Kruczkowski, Loes Bogers, Natalia Papadopoulou, Shirley Niemans, Till Cremer, and Koen Van Os.
A selection of projects
While none of our students created an open-source sex toy, Fablab Amsterdam's class of 2015 still had some impressive projects on display.
Koen Van Os, for instance, created a machine to create soft digital materials through the process of wrapping. Koen works for Phillips, and initially found out about the Academy through his company. When asked why he chose to participate, Koen noted that working with physical materials is not something one normally experiences in daily life—he goes to a lot of meetings and gives a lot of presentations, but really making something is a rare occurrence. His project, the table top wrapping machine, was inspired by a Fab Academy lesson on composite materials. Wrapping, he notes, is a method that is normally used for industrial purposes. But he feels like it could be used for more artistic projects. Now that he's through with Fab Academy, he hopes to build more table top machines in the future.
Shirley Niemans, a teacher at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science, built a pair of glowing 'temaris' (a type of Japanese handball given to young children as a sign of good luck). Shirley expressed that, for her final project, she wanted to create a toy that inspired her children (aged 1 and 2) to play together in a simplistic way.
She was initially inspired to join the Fab Academy because, as a researcher and a teacher of Interactive Media students, she has an enormous amount of personal passion for making things. She also hopes to encourage students to make more physical prototypes using a space similar to a Fablab located on the campus where she works. When asked what she hopes to do now that Fab Academy is over, Shirley noted that she was keen to continue learning and start working in the lab. She'll also be attending the FAB11 conference in Boston in August. But before she dives back into making, she plans to “sleep a bit and see her kids.”