FAB is the annual international convergence of the Fab Lab Network. Last year I was a student in the pilot year of MIT's Fab Academy at AS220 and our graduation was at FAB6 in Amsterdam. This year FAB7 took place in Lima, Peru at the National University of Engineering. I was thrilled to reconnect with folks from labs all around the world! Pictured above are traditional Tijeras dancers in Lima's Government Palace. Their performance was only one part of FAB7's fabulous welcoming event.
Fabsietecito (Little FAB7) took place before the conference began. Kids came to Lima's new Fab Lab and made cardboard robots with LEDs!
It's so valuable for us all to converge and communicate about sustainability, organization, and other issues. It was a relief to know that we each are not alone in our challenges in Fab Labs. People always share lab stories that project positivity, especially photos of smiling faces at parties. We don't speak as openly or as often of classes cancelled for lack of enrollment, threats due to lack of funding, or the situations most pregnant with potential for improvement.
Mostly, things are going swell! Labs are increasing exponentially all over the world, but it is still a challenge to get new members into the labs, to help people understand why these resources should be relevant to them, and to bridge the chasm of intimidation that many people feel because of a lack of experience with electronics, programming, or contemporary technology in general.
Here folks from 5 countries on 4 different continents collaborated to construct an Ultimaker, a great 3-D printer from the Netherlands. It took 8 hours to assemble it and start printing.
There are many stray dogs around Lima, and different buildings at the engineering university have adopted animals. Under the table above you'll see Fabita, one of that lab's mascots.
All over Lima it's easy to find ambulantes, or mobile vendors, especially in the form of food carts. The design challenge at this year's conference was to fab an ambulante. First prize went to Rachel Hamburg for her Bananalas (in English, Bananawings.) Rachel and Daniel Greene cut the wing form on a Shopbot, and hung the fruits to look like feathers. Those in attendance interacted with the Bananalas ambulante as if plucking fruit from a tree!
Next year, FAB8 will be in New Zealand, and FAB9 will be in Japan in 2013!