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The FabLab team with their recently arrived equipment at Babesa (Photo courtesy: FabLab Bhutan)
The FabLab team with their recently arrived equipment at Babesa (Photo courtesy: FabLab Bhutan)

FabLab Bhutan to foster innovative minds

Bhutan’s 21st century education system will receive a significant impetus with the inauguration of FabLab Bhutan on July 20.

Fablab or fabrication laboratory will provide a space to innovative minds. The lab will provide access to modern means for invention and innovation.

David Cool, the founder of FabLab in Bhutan, said that he hopes to see young people come forward.

“With a lab like this, ideas can go so much further. The only limitation is your imagination,” he said.

Director of FabLab international outreach programme under Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s centre for bits and atoms, Sherry Lassiter, said that bringing FabLab to Bhutan will help find solutions for sustainability through local people working to solve their challenges and also by interacting with the global community.

“The global labs can collaborate with Bhutan and work for solutions and Bhutan can also share solutions to other parts of the world,” she said. She added that to inspire the Bhutanese, some projects for the community have been planned.

Manager of FabLab Bhutan, Tshewang Tenzin Rabten, said that the lab plans to produce portable toilets in collaboration with Bhutan Toilet Organisation. He added that the production would use plastic materials, which will help reduce plastic waste in the country.

Five FabLab specialists from MIT began the installation of equipment on Thursday at Babesa, Thimphu. The equipment include laser cutters, computer-controlled milling machines, 3D printer, precision milling machine, sewing machine, equipment for molding, casting and composite materials. The equipment were provided by Dassaut Systems Solidworks and MIT’s FabLab international outreach programme.

The laboratory in Bhutan will provide orientation to the registered youth on July 12. A total of 68 students have registered so far. There will be 15 students from the woodcraft centre. Students will be taught to use multiple machines with different purposes.

In 2016, Bhutan signed to be a fab city, which works to increase production inside the city along with recycling materials and meeting local needs through local inventions.

“During the agreement, Bhutan said that within 40 or 50 years, they will produce half of what they consume,” David Cool said.

Director of centre for bits and atoms, Professor Neil Gershenfeld, will visit Bhutan for inauguration of the lab.

The idea of FabLab emerged at MIT’s centre for bits and atoms in 2001. The lab grew to be a global programme for empowering local invention, engineering education, and entrepreneurship.

Today, there are around 1,200 labs in more than 100 countries.

Phurpa Lhamo

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