FabLab (from “fabrication laboratory”) opened at TSU on the 19th of November. This center aids the development of creative engineering and new educational contexts. Using the new laboratory’s equipment, students can try out new high-tech solutions and build up competencies in project management and cutting-edge technologies.
“This space has everything you need to realize your project from scratch. It used to take months, experts, and special laboratories, but now things like additive technologies, virtual reality, and modeling technologies are available in one place. It shortens the idea-to-product life cycle by tenfold. This space is a test site for new ideas, which is important, because, without implementation, the idea is stuck,” said Eduard Galazhinskiy, TSU Rector, at the opening ceremony.
FabLab can accept more than 1000 students for consultation, education, and project implementation. The students will be able to test new high-tech solutions and turn their idea into a product in no time.
Marina Shikhman, a postgraduate student at the Faculty of Innovative Technologies, develops drone movement algorithms. At FabLab she works on the necessary program and uses a 3D printer. Her project on the use of computer vision to enable a more precise drone delivery won the UMNIK – Russian Post competition.
“Sometimes I have trouble finding the necessary part to improve the drone, and waiting for it wastes time. Now, we can make things we need at the university using a 3D-printer. It speeds up the process and grants us freedom: we can design a part that is not on the market but will fit the rest of the mechanism perfectly,” explained Marina Shikhman.
The new center can realize 30 projects per year, in both technical sciences and humanities. For example, TSU Faculty of Psychology students are constructing and testing a case for AICOG – a medical device for exercise and testing human cognitive abilities.
The device trains human cognition by interfering with the image of the user’s hands: it distorts the color, slows down the movements, etc. The inventors now are patenting their creation and searching for opportunities to introduce their device to the market.
FabLab is organized like a technology company – it has everything to design and manufacture something from scratch. It has a 3D-printer farm, a VR station, and CNC machines that work with wood, metal, and plastic. Most importantly, the center is open to everyone who wants to use it. Currently, the laboratory is used by several teams from various TSU faculties, including the Faculty of Psychology, Faculty of Innovative Technologies, and Faculty of Physics and Engineering.
The center also facilitates inter-university projects. For example, TSU and TSUAB as partners design street furniture from concrete and recycled materials. The team uses FabLab to create formwork for furniture, and later in May, the students may be involved in creating life-size street furniture prototypes.
“We design tables, benches, flowerpots, fire bowls, exchange cabinets, and other useful furniture to create an aesthetic and functional environment that would suit our university city. All ideas are tested by their target audience” explained Nika Eremina, an officer of the TSUAB International Office in Research and Innovation.
The center will be open to the students of other Tomsk universities as well as to the general public. A FabLab team is now developing special introductory courses to make the machinery available for open use.