Fab Academy is an intensive six month program that teaches students to design, prototype and invent almost anything using digital fabrication tools and machines.
The course is directed by Neil Gershenfeld from MIT’s Center For Bits and Atoms and based on MIT’s rapid prototyping course: How to Make (Almost) Anything. Since 2001, they have been at the cutting edge of the global maker movement; enabling innovation and democratising the use of digital fabrication technology through the growing network of Fab Labs around the world.
“Digital fabrication consists of much more than 3-d printing. It is an evolving suite of capabilities to turn data into things and things into data. Many years of research remain to complete this vision, but the revolution is already well under way.”
The Fab Academy brings together a multi-disciplinary and hands-on learning experience that can be taken in any number of participating Fab Labs around the world. At it’s core, Fab Academy empowers students to learn by doing, inspires them to make stuff locally, and to become active participants in sustainable cities and communities.
Fab Lab Barcelona was the first Fab Lab to open in the EU back in 2007, and this year celebrates ten years of innovation, collaboration and invention.
Based in the heart of the vibrant Poblenou district, the Fab Lab Barcelona is also a bustling maker community and incubation hub. The Fab Lab is located within the Institute for Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), where architecture students come from all over the world, adding an exciting international flavour to the mix.
Fab Lab Barcelona has also been instrumental in exciting new research projects such as Smart Citizen and Fab City, among others which aim to use citizen data and local manufacturing to transform the cities of the future. To this end, Poblenou offers an ideal urban space to experiment with new ideas and innovation.
The Fab Academy in Barcelona provides a unique and fully immersive experience in digital fabrication in one of the founding Fab Labs, as well as opportunities to learn at one of Europe’s leading research and innovation hubs.
The Fab Lab Barcelona works in tandem with the Green Fab Lab, a digital fabrication space dedicated to innovation in agro-ecology, forestry and conservation. Located in Valldaura on the hills above Barcelona, the Green Fab Lab offers an opportunity to learn directly from nature in order to develop a more sustainable and ecological solutions for 21st-century cities.
Over the last decade, Fab Lab Barcelona has established itself as a vital node in the global Fab Lab movement. Today it continues to help coordinate and expand this ever-growing network, as well as develop its educational impact through the Fab Academy, Fabricademy, BioAcademy and Academany programs. Students from these programs have gone on to create new Fab Labs around the world, and many continue actively developing award-winning projects.
The Fab Academy is completed by combining 19 certificates that demonstrate familiarity and experience with various topics and technologies covered. The course is organised by week:
Check the Fab Academy content archive for more information on the evolution of the academy curriculum. See last year's class schedule here.
The Fab Diploma is awarded by the Fab Academy upon completion of the course requirements. This is earned by demonstrating progress rather than just finishing the course calendar. To receive the Fab Diploma, each student must demonstrate to have completed each week’s requirements, receiving their certificate for the relevant technical topics. For their final evaluation, students must build, demonstrate and document a final project that integrates the various tools and techniques covered by the course.
Fab Academy offers a unique and collaborative learning experience. The Fab Lab provides the space, inventory and machines for students to pursue their own project goals while participating in an interactive global classroom where they can share their progress, ideas, problems and solutions. Fab Academy teaches a “learning to learn” approach, where students share methods and best practices in an open-source and collaborative environment.
Students are supported by local instructors who guide students in the various assignments and topics covered. Every week is introduced via an interactive video stream guided by Neil Gershenfeld, where students share their progress, ask questions and receive feedback. The course is complimented by a series of live recitations each week from experts and professionals from various fields, all who are using digital fabrication to innovate in new and exciting ways.
The course is divided into a 20 week program, with each week or two covering a different technology and skill. There is no global accreditation for these skills. Instead, each student builds an individual web portfolio to document their progress, trials and errors; integrating what they have learnt into a final project that gets evaluated together with their overall progress in the course.
Check the Fab Academy content archive for more information.
The Academy course is open to any type of professional, student or creative individual willing to learn. Over the years, the academy has been attended by engineers, designers, musicians, computer scientists, artists, and people from many more backgrounds. The course is unconventional in the sense that it caters to a wide diversity of interests and abilities. One does not have to have a formal background in any of the subjects covered.
The possibilities of digital fabrication are limitless, all that is required is the dedication to learn.
Thanks to the open course orientation, each participant can create their own trajectory and learning process within the academy, as well as adapt the final project to their own needs and experience. The versatility of the program shows in the diversity of topics and projects presented annually by students.
Find out more about some of Academy student stories and some of the amazing projects they came up with during the Fab Academy