I have been on the topic of nontraditional education a lot recently. I think it is vital for anyone who wants to do cool things. Having nontraditional learning methods leads to higher innovation as well as pure engagement in what you do. When I was in school, a lot of it bored me. I felt that I was not able to actually experiment and try things. It felt more like a jail sentence of doing rote and archaic things. What I did in college was a lot of outside studies and skipping class. I can say that my passions and interests were quite developed and I was thankful for my exploration. Without that, I would have less of an idea of where I wanted to go in my own life journey. I will be highlighting an interesting organization in terms of nontraditional education today.
Fab Academy is something I learned about nearly 7 months ago. I was doing some work with people in the maker community internationally and this was brought to my attention.
At the Fab Academy, they focus on teaching people how to envision, prototype, and document your ideas through multiple hours of hands-on practical skill-based learning. This is all done through the use of digital fabrication tools.
Through the Fab Academy, one learns the many facets of product development. This includes envisioning a product, prototyping, and then documentation of an idea. This all happens with a ton of hands-on experience with various digital fabrication tools. Fab Academy awards its participants with a diploma. The diploma is the result of collecting various Fab Academy Certificates while in the program. Obtaining the diploma is based on a student’s acquired skills over time rather than time or actual credits. Skill-building flows natural from the ability of students who are planning and executing a new project weekly. The students are responsible for documenting their progress for each project. This results in a large personal portfolio of various technical projects.
While at Fab Academy, students will learn things such as project development and management. Other skills learned include web development, version control, modeling with 2D and 3D software, laser cutting, design and programming circuit boards, interpreting and implementing programming protocols, interpreting and implementing network protocols, the use of sensors and output devices, 3D printing and scanning, CNC machining, mold design, construction and casting, as well as mechanical and machine design. Many of these techniques will be used to create a final project for the program as well. Fab Academy benefits from its distributed educational model. This helps to provide a unique educational experience on a global level. There are various Fab Labs around the world who conduct this program.
This program was birthed from MIT. The work done to build this organization from the ground up is amazing. It goes against traditional education in many ways, but I guess it makes sense that MIT is at the helm of this organization. MIT can be widely regarded as a highly innovate and forward-thinking educational institution. Being able to see the errors within the educational system, and providing the resources to lessen this is vital.
As discussed previously, Fab Academy has a large focus on projects. I love this model of thinking because it engages a person in learning with a purpose. Direct and tangible skills are gained from building within the parameters of a project. Various users have posted their projects from Fab Academy online. The online repository for product development, Wikifactory, houses a lot of these projects. If you look at the website, there are a ton of different and interesting projects that have been hosted on the platform.
I see the benefits clearly of a program like this. It really supercharges your skillset if you are ready. I would highly recommend it to people who want to be makers.
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