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Fab Academy

How to Make (almost) Anything

The Fab Academy is a fast-paced, hands-on learning environment that teaches students principles and applications of digital fabrication based on MIT’s popular, rapid-prototyping course How To Make (almost) Anything, taught by Professor Neil Gershenfeld. Fab Academy was founded to teach skills at Fab Labs – an outreach project from MIT’s Center of Bits and Atoms that has today grown into a network of over 500 labs.


Fab Academy offers a distributed rather than distance educational model: students learn in local workgroups, with peers, mentors, and machines, which are then connected globally through content sharing and video for interactive classes. The individual labs are supported and supervised regionally by super node sites with more advanced capabilities, expertise, and inventories.

There is no global accreditation for these skills. Instead, students build a portfolio that document their mastery of their skills individually, and their integration. Local instructors and regional gurus review the portfolios, which will then be examined centrally to ensure that each student meets global standards and follows evolving best practices. The Fab Diploma is earned by progress rather than the calendar, for successful completion of a series of certificate requirements. The instructional sequence requires six months to cover, and the time to finish may take several years. The Fab Diploma is awarded by the Fab Academy. It has no institutional connection with MIT. It recognizes readiness to work in, and establish, a fab lab. The Fab Diploma has led to students obtaining employment, investment, admission, and recognition.

The Fab Academy platform has subsequently been used to add classes (collectively called Academany) that share the model of hands-on instruction to students in workgroups, with local mentors, linked by shared content and interactive lectures by global leaders. The first of these is How To Grow (almost) Anything, an introduction to biotechnology with a faculty team led by Harvard’s Prof. George Church, with more classes under development, as well as programs for more advanced studies planned.

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