Tuesday, August 23, 2011

FAB 7: some pictures

FAB 7 in Lima, Peru was a great experience. For me and my family it was also our vacation too. Here are some pics from the city of Lima and from the conference at the National Engineering University.

Picasa FAB 7 album

Enjoy the photos!

Fab House - Barcelona, Spain

Here's a link to some pictures during the fabrication of the Fab Lab house produced by Barcelona, Spain.


I'll keep a look-out for more pictures. If you find some, please reply with a comment.

FYI...the Incite-Focus Fab Lab is planning to build "tiny houses" (an actual technical term for houses less than 400sqft) in the Detroit area.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

FAB 7: day 5 (final)

Today is Friday, the last day of fab7. It was mainly a wrap-up day meant to summarize our accomplishments and set action items for our continuing work, for the conference is ending but our mission is not.

There are a few major points to make...first, fab global is getting more organized by assessing the charter and creating a curated list of official fab labs. This is good and long overdue. Second, lab equipment and inventory is being assessed and reorganized by cost. There is a vision for super labs with $10M scale equipment serving as nodes in the fab lab network. Third, the fab academy is being reviewed and tweaked. Fourth, we are beginning to examine an economic model for personal and distributed fabrication.

I am part of the team for the economic model. Our first goals are to examine rating systems for labs which are manufacturing goods, then to understand the terms and conditions of a purchase made from a fab lab, then finally examine an interface for connecting designers, fab labs, and consumers. It will be fun.

Finally...FAB8 next year is set for Wellington, New Zealand, whilst FAB9 is set for Japan. See everyone there!

FAB 7: day 4

Where to begin? Thursday, today, is the public day of the conference with a full slate of presenters. The range of topics is staggering and exciting. Cut-paste genetic fabrication techniques, DIY UAV drones, the economics of distributed fabrication, exotic materials and 3D printing are just a few of the subjects.

It was truly an amazing day. The talk which resonated most with me was that given by the deputy mayor of Barcelona, Spain. Their elected leaders are embarking on a crusade to make Barcelona the first Fab city. Barcelona presently has four Fab Labs with maybe a dozen planned. The aim is to reshape the city with an economy based upon distributed and personal fabrication. The implications are radical.

Just ask yourself this...what if you could make everything you needed (or buy things you needed) from a local fab shop like fab lab? And if this concept became popular, what would become of retail? What would become of mass production economies? What would become of global supply chains and international commerce? Think about these things and stay tuned. The next new economic model is coming.

Finally the day ended by recognizing the graduates of the latest global Fab Academy class. Job well done!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

FAB 7: day 3

Two words: fab flight

Fab global launched a collaborative UAV project today involving 4, and perhaps 5 labs to start. We have already mapped out a basic plan and work division for the functional systems and structures. We are looking at a large vehicle with sensing capabilities.

There's nothing particularly special about a DIY UAV. People do them now. The challenge here is two fold...using fab lab tools to fab everything including inertial navigation boards, and collaboration amongst global labs to design, build, test and fly a UAV. My opinion, based on my professional experience in aerospace, is that global collaboration is tricky at best.

For now, we need to settle on a plan, develop a layout and begin work division, with the goal of flying our UAV in year.

Join the Fab Flight team today!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FAB 7: day 2

Our little Tulsa travel group took the morning off from the conference for 3 hour tour of local ancient ruins at Pachamac. They predate the Inca ruins at Macchu Pichhu. The tour was great. We saw more of Lima and learned a lot. I have never seen so many adobe mud bricks in my life!

We made it to the conference after a quick lunch of arroz con pollo just in time for a review of some NSF research on US Fab Labs. They are assessing the state and nature of the US lab network in order to identify patterns of communication and relationships. The written report will be produced later this year.

We bumped into more folks who are interested in our middle school curriculum, so it appears we have struck a nerve with an emerging need. Good stuff.

Fab Foo sessions followed once more. I sat in on a discussion about creating a fab game to teach principles of design and fabrication. A developer has been identified but needs fab gurus and curriculum tips. The day ended with a separate discussion on the rather disfunctional state of global fab lab collaboration, something that needs more work.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 1: afternoon (tardes)

So my Spanish is downright lousy as you can see, but that hasn't stopped me from trying :-)

On to the afternoon sessions. I attended one done by Sherry Lassiter, director of Fab Central at MIT. It was about getting a fab lab so I was keen to listen and contribute, given my recent experience with Fab Lab Tulsa. The session was enjoyable, touching on the elements of a fab lab including adhering to the charter, sharing your knowledge globally and having open access. The dicussion turned to sustainability models for funding and operations. This is challenge for most fab labs, globally as many are govt funded without long term business plans defined yet. As a global community of labs we need to crack this nut. I was able to share some experiences from the founding of Fab Lab Tulsa which were well received. I spoke with planned labs in Israel and Rio de Janiero afterwards.

It ended, we ate snacks and were off to Fab Foo, a free form discussion on emerging lab topics. Some of us discussed some rewording of the Fab Charter to better differentiate true fab labs from pretenders. Its not easy to do and there's more mission statement dialog to had.

Afterwards I returned to the hotel for dinner (pappas rellenas!!) and sleep. Good night.

FAB 7: day 0 and 1


Sunday opens Fab7 with an official reception given by the Mayor of Lima. Lima is a city of about 8 million people. To put things in perspective, one of its burroughs, Mira Flores itself has about 300,000 people; so to get an official greeting from the mayor is a great honor.

The reception included dignitaries from Fab Lab Barcelona, the city of Lima and the National Engineering University. Following were performances from the national youth orchestra, and several traditional dancers. I don't have pics yet. Buenos noches!


Trying to blog on the nook color live from fab7.

Just finished the AM session and was blown away by Neil's talk and the lab presentations. Maybe 10 labs gave short talks about their labs...very impressive, good work by all labs on topics ranging from education to make your own modelas. Neil talked on digital matter and intelligent structures.

Just had a wonderful lunch of authentic peruvian fare...rice, potatoes, pork and beef. Now we are off to the afternoon sessions!

Buenos diez!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lima here we come!

FAB7 starts on Monday August 15 in Lima, Peru.  FAB7 is the global gathering of Fabbers from around the world.

The draft agenda is here.

Fab Lab Tulsa will be well represented with four of our directors in attendance.  We'll attend workshops ranging from organizing a lab to the distributed development of UAVs.  I'm looking forward to discussions on machines-that-make-machines, as well electronics design and assembly.  There are sessions called Fab Foo, but don't ask me what those are about now.  I'll let you know after the first one!

I hope to meet lots of new Fab Lab colleagues and learn about how other labs operate.  Fab Lab Tulsa, being a relatively new lab, has a lot to learn.

Besides, FAB7 we're going to see the sites in Lima, some ruins, museums and a culinary tour.

Stay tuned...I'll post pictures as I get them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Five Myths about New Ideas

I was reading the Sunday Tulsa World newspaper today, reviewing the opinion page and found an interesting research based piece into myths about entrepreneurs, venture capital and innovation.

The original piece is by Vivek Wadhwa, in the Washington Post, here.  Wadhwa is the director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercializaton at Duke University, link here.

Here the list of 5 myths:
  1. America's typical entrepreneurs are in their 20's.  FALSE, research shows that the median age is 40.  70% are married and 43.5% have at least one child.
  2. Entrepreneurs are like top athletes:  They are born, not made.  FALSE, 52% were the first in their family to start a business, and only about 39% had an entrepreneurial father.
  3. College drop-outs make better entrepreneurs.  FALSE, companies founded by college graduates have twice the sales and workforce of companies whose founder didn't go to college.
  4. Women cannot cut it in the tech world.  FALSE, few girls get encouragement from their parents to study engineering.
  5. Venture capital is a prerequisite for innovation.  FALSE, less than 5% of venture capital goes to early-stage companies.
I found all of this to be fascinating and reassuring to me.  There's still time for me to make my own mark in the business or non-profit world.

I was particularly struck by myths 1 and 5.  For myth 1, it's clear that you need experience in business and in the world before most people can really formulate, organize, lead and execute a business start-up.  It's popularly believed that "experience" is a detriment to entrepreneurship but apparently not.

For myth 5, I've had some very limited exposure to venture capital but the conference I attended in Feb 2011, most of which was taught by venture capitalists, showed us the S-curve and the "valley of death".  Most venture capital investment happens in the late stage when it appears that a company will finally break even.  Most early stage angel investment is made by families, friends or by raiding a nest-egg.  The opinion piece says it best...venture capital follows innovation, it doesn't cause it.

Hopefully, Fab Lab Tulsa will be a platform for entrepreneurs to demonstrate and develop their ideas so as to better attract angel and venture capital investment.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A robotic bird with flapping wings!

Check this out from TED...a robotic bird which propels itself by flapping it's wings.  Truly amazing.  See here.

Festo, if you're not familiar with the company, does some pretty amazing bio-inspired design ranging from manufacturing and material handling to floating robotic penguins to the flapping bird.  It's a German company and they do some pretty impeccable engineering.  I'd love to see one of their labs and find out how they do such incredible work.

I studied German all through high school and was actually quite good, the intention being that my German skills could help me in my engineering career.  Unfortunately, I only had one short opportunity to use German when I was designing the cabin windows for the Airbus A380.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Our new sign!

OK so I posted to our main website too but I'm too excited about the sign and our progress just to leave it at that.  The sign looks great and we're thrilled to finally have some identification on the building...a real front door.

A special thanks to the Hardesty Family Foundation for their support!  And stay tuned for an upcoming about our grand opening...