Royal Academy of Engineering Supports Nepal FabLab to Strengthen Fabrication Skills
Pradita Pradhan, Field Ready Program Coordinator
Nepal Communitere in partnership with Field Ready jointly received a grant project titled ‘Building high tech engineering and design skills at Nepal’s first FabLab’ from the Royal Academy of Engineering in the month of May 2020. Engineering X– a joint foundation of RAEng with Lloyd’s Register Foundation awarded grant support to 21 different projects across 14 countries in the world for supporting skills and education programs and NEPAL is one of them! Field Ready is super excited to launch this new and invaluable partnership with Nepal Communitere through the support of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) this summer!
“With thanks to the support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Nepal Communitere has a great opportunity to build the engineering skills and knowledge of Nepal’s next generation of makers, designers and engineers. This is especially exciting because of the forthcoming Fablab, Nepal’s first, which will provide world class manufacturing facilities for students and the public alike. Field Ready is proud to partner with Nepal Communitere in the development of the FabLab and building skills for Nepal’s young engineers.”Ben Britton, International Lead at Field Ready.
Under their program titled ‘Engineering skills where they are most needed’, RAEng aims to support capacity building initiatives in countries where engineering skills gaps and high dependency on multinational organizations, foreign workforces/expats for advanced engineering solutions exists. All of the projects supported are aimed at building domestic engineering skills and capabilities for locals to build skilled manpower in their home countries. In Nepal, there is a huge gap in the applied and practical education system given the lack of availability of latest high tech equipment, machines and laboratories for students as well as trained educators and faculty. Hence there is a big need plus an opportunity to generate trained and technically skilled Nepalis through much-needed digital fabrication training and education programs with the launch of the first Nepal Fab Lab.
Under the leadership of Pallab Shrestha, FabLab Lead at Nepal Communitere and myself, Pradita Pradhan, Program Coordinator at Field Ready, this project has already taken off at Nepal Communitere from the month of June 2020. It will support the soon-to-be launched Nepal FabLab in early 2021 with a team of skilled local staff to run the mega lab to provide a range of courses and workshops to diverse participants such as young engineers, entrepreneurs, industrial product designers and students. The Nepal FabLab is designed to create opportunities to use different tools and equipment for prototyping, modelling and manufacturing. RAEng support will help build the engineering capabilities of a new generation of young Nepalis in high tech manufacturing, entrepreneurship and design. The program incorporates the delivery of training and skills development workshops, while the Nepal Fab Lab team itself will also get skilled-up. The curriculum will focus on topics such as Computer Aided Design (CAD), Digital Fabrication, Electronics, Robotics and Human-Centered Design. The whole idea is to conduct a competency-based curriculum even for an introductory course whereby participants can directly apply these skills in the FabLab itself.
To meet this vision, Nepal Communitere’s current maker space, training lab and co-working spaces will be up scaled to a more furnished and equipped innovation hub in order to house the new Nepal Fab Lab. In addition to the physical upgrades, the RAEng grant will allow us to also upgrade our team to become highly skilled to run this community-based Fab Lab effectively. Ultimately, a skilled Nepal FabLab team and participants will be able to benefit different sectors of Nepal such as educational institutions, young Nepali engineers, small scale businesses & entrepreneurial initiatives, industrial & commercial manufacturing, and skills-building for our local communities.
This past month, Pallab and I participated in a week long FabxLive conference where we saw young student groups from India and US running technical Labs and Kids makerspaces on their own and teaching these design skills to others. We are also having multiple discussions with three FabLab teams- FabLab Philippines, FabLab Iraq and FabLab Bhutan to further explore new avenues not just on Fab Lab sustainability but also in new ways of engaging strategic partners, students, professionals, stakeholders and diverse communities so that they all can benefit through this valuable resource in Nepal!