The Hindu | October 17, 2015 ||
A young entrepreneur with a 3D printed elephant at the FabLab at Startup Village, India’s first telecom incubator. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
Young inventors in the state will get a helping hand to realise their creative dreams with mini fab labs in engineering colleges
Engineering students can now let their imaginations run wild. Coming to select engineering colleges in the state are mini ‘fab labs’ (Fabrication Laboratories), which help convert those imaginative ideas to prototypes. The ambitious venture is being rolled out under the aegis of Kerala Technological University (KTU), in association with the Kerala Startup Mission (KSM). “Twenty colleges will have mini fab labs in the initial phase of the project. We had received 46 applications from the affiliated engineering colleges. An expert committee will short-list the first 20,” said M. Abdul Rahman, Pro-Vice Chancellor of KTU. Jayasankar Prasad C., chief executive officer of KSM, pointed out that the aim of the initiative is to bring a maker ecosystem in the state. “It will usher an in-house development facility in educational institutions and mould talents with skills in design, development and fabrication,” he said.
The project proposal said that the mini fab lab will work on a partnership model, where KSM and the host institution will share the cost on a 50:50 basis. Experts representing Fab Lab Kerala (comprising the two Fab Labs in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram set up by the government with the support of Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will provide the technical expertise to run and maintain the mini fab labs. The partnering institution will buy the equipment. KSM will undertake the installation of the labs under the supervision of technical experts from the Fab Foundation. Some of the equipment in a mini lab includes laser cutter- mini version; mill/router CNC; vinyl cutter; electronics workbench: function generator; soldering station and accessories. Other consumables and accessories for each equipment include softwood, acrylic boards, copper clads, wax, vinyl, copper tapes, electronics workbench kit and cleaning tools.
People behind the initiative exuded confidence while stating that the proposed mini fab labs will help in stepping up the technical skills of both students and teachers. They will also get wide recognition as Fab Lab courses and certification are accepted globally. Young inventors have an opportunity to get international visibility for their products besides getting a chance to collaborate on Fab Lab projects through the Fab Lab network. The youngsters could explore the advantage of having a dedicated channel to connect with Fab gurus at Fab Labs in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. They will also receive opportunities to collaborate with Kerala Startup Mission to develop startups based on products developed at the mini fab labs. – Courtesy