Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fabulous in Afghanistan

If you are looking for a way to help improve the lives of people in Afganistan through communications and learning you need to check out Fab Lab Jalabad, a project put together by Amy Sun, the MIT team leader for many Fab Labs around the world including the one in Jalalabad.

Fab labs provide widespread access to modern means for invention. They began as an outreach project from MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA). CBA assembled millions of dollars in machines for research in digital fabrication, ultimately aiming at developing programmable molecular assemblers that will be able to make almost anything. Fab labs fall between these extremes, comprising roughly fifty thousand dollars in equipment and materials that can be used today to do what will be possible with tomorrow's personal fabricators.

Fab labs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway and now to Jalalbad, Afghanistan. Activities in fab labs range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in fab labs include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.

For assistance with ordering, installation, training, and process and project development MIT participates in selected partnerships. However, to scale support for these functions fab labs are increasingly being organized in regional networks, globally coordinated by a Fab Foundation being established in Norway. Along with the Fab Foundation, a Fab Fund is being launched to provide global access to capital and markets for businesses incubated in fab labs, and a Fab Academy is being accredited for distributed degree programs taught in the labs.

Launching a new fab lab requires assembling enough of the hardware and software inventory to be able to share people and projects with other fab labs, posting the Fab Charter to provide context for doing that, and contacting fab-info@cba.mit.edu to be added to the fab lab network.

You can find out more about the Jalabad Fab Lab project by following the links to Amy Sun's reports on the activies and developments at Tim Lynch's Free Range International.

Amy's first report on the project is Fab Lab Jalalabad and she follows up with two more reports Fab Surge Summary Part 1 : Value = (Cost)^-1 and the latest Fab Surge Summary Part 2: Projects will give you the information necessary to make an informed decision as to whether this a project that you might like to be invloved with.

2 comments:

tom said...

what't that old saw about war
Rule #1 Young men die in war
Rule #2 you can't change rule #1
Thanks for your country's support, I know we are insular and ignorant at times, but this American ...born in NYC ...
really appreciates your effort to defeat the Taliban and to
support your neighbors...
tom in seattle

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