The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) is motivating innovation at a fast pace since changing from a polytechnic to a university.
NUST’s creative hub, the FABlab Design and Technology Centre, is set to bring the first global FABacademy “How to make almost anything” training to the country.
The FABlab is a rapid prototyping and advanced manufacturing lab equipped with modern technology and design equipment, which acts as the low-risk sandbox for ideas sparked both at the university and by external innovators. Having just completed a pilot phase of the academy, Director and Co-founder, Kirstin Wiedow, said “This is a highly challenging and cutting-edge diploma facilitated by Professor Neil Gershenfeld of MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms through online lessons. This is truly the beginning of Industry 4.0 and the next industrial revolution – just imagine, after completing this course you can, literally, make almost anything – now that is how we will breed a generation of innovators! Education is the greatest foundation a human being can have and we need to make sure we provide competitive learning, especially if we consider the rapid speed at which technology is advancing. We can’t be left behind.”
The course runs from January till June covering hot topics such as 3D printing, laser cutting, embedded programming, smart device production and even designing and making machines. Not only are these online lessons hosted directly by the founder of the original FABlab, Prof Gershenfeld, they also host weekly lectures for enrolled students by some of the great innovators such as Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder and Bruce Mau of Massive Change.
Wiedow says the diploma is “the next level of vocational training; advanced vocational training, because the weekly topics provide the technology skills, which our learners do not currently access, such as Computer-Aided Design applied to woodworking and the benefit of smart technologies applied to boosting new product creation.”
NUST’s FABlab is planning to launch this innovative programme as part of the global network of labs next year with a choice group of a few learners for the pilot phase. These learners would be sourced from different study backgrounds to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and provide youth with advanced technology skills to drive not only entrepreneurial potential but also provide employment opportunities in the country and abroad.
The training programme is not cheap according to Wiedow but with the country pushing the industrialisation and education agenda, this is a catalyst for Namibia to advance and provide new and innovative opportunities.