Can you use the computer to create not just an image, but an exact copy of an object? Is it possible to print an object on a printer: for example, an aircraft part, a model of the Eiffel tower, or your mum's favourite vase? Just yesterday this seemed to nothing more than just a fantasy, a story from the next sci-fi movie. But in reality, now this is available to any willing school pupil. The Krasnoyarsk Region is launching a network of Youth Innovative Creativity Centres (YICCs) - technical laboratories with the latest digital equipment.
The KRITBI YICC
The first YICC in Krasnoyarsk was opened in May 2012 at the Krasnoyarsk Regional Innovation and Technology Business Incubator (KRITBI). It's opening was preceded by several months of careful preparation. Specialists of the KIRTBI Prototyping Centre conducted tours for teachers and pupils of Krasnoyarsk schools, introduced the equipment and demonstrated its capabilities.
Valery Rutkovsky, Head of the Prototyping Center of KRITBI:
"We've created a teaching programme for high school pupils, that introduces them to 3D scanners, 3D printers, metalworking equipment and laser engravers. We also taught them the basic principles of work in the graphics software SolidWorks, which is used to develop products of any complexity and purpose.
How does the process of materialisation happen? Software-controlled machines handle a variety of materials, taking away all unnecessary or, vice versa, adding new elements, giving the product the necessary form. This is how 3D plastic parts and electronic circuit boards are manufactured. And the man then only has to assemble all the parts together, to get the desired object."
YICCs - the network
To help the young people from different parts of the city and the region develop technical ideas and study the work processes of the modern equipment, a decision was made to launch a network of similar technical laboratories. This spring the educational institutions of the region participated in a competition, after which the winners received the right to open such laboratories at their schools. These were: the Krasnoyarsk Grammar School No. 1 "Universe", the Krasnoyarsk Grammar School No. 13, the Youth Centre "Zebra", the Sosnovy Bor Automotive Technical School, and the Zheleznogorsk Young Technicians Station.
All these educational institutions received the same set of equipment, which by its characteristics does not concede, and in some positions even surpasses the capacities of the KRITBI's YICC. The teachers will also receive training under a special programme developed by the specialists of the KRITBI Prototyping Center.
Another important aspect is that all the centres are intended not only for pupils of the institutions housing them. Any teenager from any other school or college can come and study at the YICC. This is mandatory for all the centers.
And for young adults: starting from this autumn, students, post-graduates and young inventors will be able to use a Youth Innovative Creativity Centre-FabLab "Angar", which will be located in the district of Pravoberezhie, Vodniki area.
The particularity of "Angar" is in its especially spacious production facilities, allowing to complete more complex technical tasks and scale new projects and developments. This laboratory will comprise two working areas: a training and design section equipped with a computer, 3D scanner, 3D printers, laser machine, milling and engraving machines and other equipment; and a production area, which will be situated in an authentic production hangar of 300 sq. meters. This scope allows the production site to accommodate some unique equipment. According to the organisers, FabLab "Angar" should become a point of attraction for technically thinking students and working young people from the whole city of Krasnoyarsk.
What is FabLab?
The idea of a FabLab - fabrication laboratory - was born in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the undisputed leaders in the field of technical education in the world. Born as a University project, through its principles of openness and accessibility FabLab turned into a global network of digital production laboratories all over the world. Today FabLabs exist in dozens of countries.