The FabLab (from “fabrication lab”) opened at TSU on November 19. This center helps in the development of creative engineering and new educational contexts. Thanks to the equipment of the new laboratory, students can experiment with new high-tech solutions and acquire skills in project management and cutting-edge technologies.
“This space has everything you need to complete your project from scratch. It used to take months, experts and special labs, but now things like additive technologies, virtual reality and modeling technologies are available in one place. It shortens the life cycle from idea to product by ten times. This space is a testing site for new ideas, which is important, because without implementation, the idea is blocked,” said Eduard Galazhinskiy, rector of TSU, during the opening ceremony.
The FabLab can accommodate more than 1000 students for consultation, training and project implementation. 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 motion algorithms. At the FabLab, she works on the necessary program and uses a 3D printer. His project on using computer vision to enable more accurate drone delivery won the UMNIK – Russian Post competition.
“Sometimes I struggle to find the part I need to upgrade the drone, and waiting for it wastes my time. Now we can make things we need in college using a 3D printer. This speeds up the process and gives us the freedom: we can design a part that is not on the market but will fit perfectly with the rest of the mechanism”, explains Marina Shikhman.
The new center can carry out 30 projects per year, both in the technical sciences and in the humanities. For example, students at TSU’s psychology faculty are building and testing a case for AICOG – a medical device for exercising and testing human cognitive abilities.
The device trains human cognition by interfering with the image of the user’s hands: it distorts color, slows down movement, etc. The inventors are now patenting their creation and looking for opportunities to bring their device to market.
The FabLab is organized like a technology company – it has everything to design and manufacture something from scratch. It has a farm of 3D printers, a VR station and CNC machines that work with wood, metal and plastic. More importantly, the center is open to anyone who wants to use it. Currently, the lab is used by several teams from various faculties at TSU, including the Faculty of Psychology, the Faculty of Innovative Technologies, and the 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 the FabLab to create formwork for the furniture, and later in May the students can be involved in the creation of life-size street furniture prototypes.
“We design tables, benches, flower pots, fire bowls, exchange cabinets and other useful furniture to create an aesthetically pleasing and functional environment that would suit our college town. All ideas are tested by their target audience,” explained Nika Eremina, head of TSUAB’s international research and innovation office.
The center will be open to students from other universities in Tomsk as well as the general public. A FabLab team is currently developing specific introductory courses to make the machines available for open use.