Fab Academy

Fab Academy

Fab Academy is an experiment borne of the fab lab community.  It was an idea that emerged from a core group of committed individuals, a half a dozen years ago,  who believed in the power of this distributed network, in this community of people who wanted to collaborate and share knowledge to empower and enable almost anyone anywhere to form their own technological futures, and with that power create economic opportunity for themselves and others.  Over the years, Fab Academy has grown, largely based on the tireless, often volunteer work of the gurus and mentors.

The Fab Academy provides instruction and supervises investigation of the mechanisms, applications, and implications of digital fabrication. Fab Academy is where many new fab lab managers, gurus and teachers get their training in digital fabrication.

The Fab Academy consists of a curriculum in the principles and applications of digital fabrication, developed by the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) from MIT. The Fab Academy is headed by Neil Gershenfeld, creator and founder of Fab Labs—workshops with digital equipment. The Fab Academy is a form of distributed learning; the lessons are hosted via MIT’s videoconferencing system.

Within the five-month curriculum for the first half of the calendar year, students can earn certificates for specific technical components if they demonstrate theoretical learning and practical application, and all components are followed. The Fab Academy is intended for everyone at all skill levels necessary to achieve master digital production. Basic computer knowledge is required to participate in the program. The program consists a 2-3 hour weekly lesson and 16 hours per week in the FabLab.

In addition, you are required to work in one of the participating Fab Labs. The program is entirely in English. To participate in an international Fab Lab, a separate application must be completed.

More information about the program, cost and method of registration is available on the Fab Academy website (see project site).

This project is made possible through a grant from the Fund Creative Industries.


Fab Foundation Mission

The Fab Foundation was formed February 9, 2009 to facilitate and support the growth of the international Fab Lab network through the development of regional Fab Foundations and organizations. The Fab Foundation is a US non-profit 501(c) 3 organization that emerged from MIT’s Center for Bits & Atoms Fab Lab Program. Our mission is to provide access to the tools, knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication, allowing anyone to make (almost) anything—thereby creating opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods around the world. Community organizations, educational institutions and non-profit concerns are our primary beneficiaries. The Foundation has three program focuses: education(.edu); organizational capacity building and services(.org); and business opportunity(.com).

We are excited to Welcome Fab Lab Ajaccio.  For the first time you will be able to take an MIT course right in your own Corsica Fab Lab. Courses are limited to 6 students.  Please join and learn “How to Make (Almost) Anything.”

How to Make Almost Anything

The Fab Academy is a Digital Fabrication Program directed by Neil Gershenfeld of MIT’s Center For Bits and Atoms, and based on MIT’s rapid prototyping course: MAS 863: How to Make (Almost) Anything. The Fab Academy began as an outreach project from the CBA, and has since spread to Fab Labs around the world. The program provides advanced digital fabrication instruction for students through a unique, hands-on curriculum and access to technological tools and resources.

Learn to Turn Codes into Things

Just as communications and computation went from analog to digital, resulting in PCs and the Internet, the digitization of fabrication is leading to personal fabricators that will allow anyone to make almost anything, anywhere. The development of digital fabrication is based on creating codes that don’t just describe things, they are things, much like proteins are coded in molecular biology. This research roadmap is ultimately aiming at a Star Trek-style replicator, but prototype versions of these capabilities are already available in field fab labs.

At the Fab Academy, you will learn how to envision, prototype and document your ideas through many hours of hands-on experience with digital fabrication tools. We take a variety of code formats and turn them into physical objects.

The Fab Academy Diploma consists of a 5 month part-time student commitment. The Fab Diploma is the result of the sum of Fab Academy Certificates. Progress towards the diploma is evaluated by a student’s acquired skills, rather than time or credits.

The Fab Academy is a fast-paced, hands-on learning experience where students plan and execute a new project each week. Each individual documents their progress for each project, resulting in a personal portfolio of technical accomplishments.

Students can take the course from a qualified Fab Lab: 20 weeks, 19 technical topics + final project

As support for advanced technical education and to provide a training path for new fab lab managers, Fab Academy, an internationally distributed campus for technical education, has emerged from the Fab Lab program. The Fab Academy provides instruction and supervises investigation of mechanisms, applications, and implications of digital fabrication.

Students at the Fab Academy learn:

  • How to use Fab Lab’s digital fabrication tools for rapid prototyping:
    • Epilog Mini Lasercutter
    • Roland MDX-20 Milling Machine
    • 3D printer
    • Roland CAMM-1 Servo GX-24 Desktop Vinyl Cutter
    • ShopBot
  • Electronics design and production (by producing circuit boards using a variety of sensors and output devices)
  • How to program AVR microcontrollers on the boards they have produced
  • Molding and casting
  • 3D scanning and printing

How It Works

Fab Academy is a distributed educational model providing a unique educational experience.

Each Fab Lab that participates in the Fab Academy program (see list here) is part of a global Fab Lab / Fab Academy network. These Fab Labs are Nodes that offer the Fab Academy program.

Students view and participate in global lectures broadcasted from MIT . The lectures are recorded and available to students throughout the semester. In addition to the lectures, there are 2- 3 lab days each week where students have access to the digital fabrication equipment and personal help with projects. Each Fab Lab will establish the schedule for these lab days.

The program requires a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Fab Academy faculty, who are leaders in their respective fields, provide global video lectures, supervise academic content, and guide research. Hands-on instruction in the labs is provided by instructors who supervise and evaluate certificates, develop and disseminate instructional material, and assist with projects.

The Fab Academy is directed by Neil Gershenfeld, produced by Sherry Lassiter, and coordinated by Tomas Diez. Students are managed by Anna Kaziunas France.

Providence Fab Academy Program:

The Providence Fab Academy begins early in order to introduce some basic concepts needed for the successful completion of the course. Open lab time will continue for a month after lectures finish in order to allow students time to freely experiment with skills they have learned throughout the course of the program.

If you are a student and would like to take the Fab Academy program as an independent study, we would be happy to work with your school. Contact us to learn more.



Fab Academy tuition is $5,000.00 for the 6 month program.

The cost of tuition includes:

    • All basic course materials
    • 15 hours (a week) hands-on Fab Lab access and personal instruction
    • 24-hour key access to the Fab Lab during the duration of the Fab Academy (once trained on all machines)
    • 6-month access to the lab

Please note: classes outside of the Fab Academy are not included in the basic membership and incur additional, separate costs.


We have a couple of $1,500.00 work study scholarships available. Please mention on your application that you wish to be considered for the scholarship program.

Payment Plans:

We offer a monthly payment plan option to help our students spread out the cost of the tuition. Yearly payment plans are also available. To stay informed of changes, updates or scholarships that may come available, sign up for our mailing list.


Fab Academy Schedule

Providence Prep class

Digital Fabrication Principles and Practices, Collaborative Technical Development, Documentation, and Project Management

  • Intro to version control (Mercurial)
  • Begin building a personal website / portfolio in your lab’s section of the class archive describing you and your final project

Computer-Aided Design, Manufacturing, and Modeling

  • Intro to 2D and 3D design software
  • Model (draw, render, animate, simulate, …a possible final project, and post it on your class page

Computer-Controlled Cutting

  • Design and create a project on the laser cutter and/or vinyl cutter

Electronics Production

  • Each student will assemble their own fabbable in-system programmer (Fab ISP) for use in the class
  • Learn to mill boards on the milling machine
  • Practice surface mount soldering techniques
  • Program AVR microcontrollers

3D Scanning and Printing

  • Learn how to turn a physical object into code
  • Then learn how to take that code and print it as a physical object

Electronics Design

  • Learn to modify one of our existing electronics “hello world” examples or create your own project.

Computer-Controlled Machining

  • Learn to make something big out of wood on the Shopbot CNC router

Embedded Programming

  • Learn to program AVR microcontrollers

Molding, Casting

  • Learn how to create detailed molds from machinable wax and make casts from them

Input Devices

  • Learn to make a circuit board with a input sensor (light, switches, temperature or ultrasonic, etc.)


  • Create composite parts or structures

Interface and Application Programming

  • Learn to visualize the output of a sensor board (that you build in the previous input devices unit).

Mechanical Design and Machine Design

  • Assemble the mechanical structure of a machine designed by a MIT graduate student
  • Assemble the electronics and program a machine designed by a MIT graduate student

Last year we made the MTM Snap-Lock milling machine

Output Devices

  • Learn to control an output device (LED’s, speaker, video or motors)

Embedded Networking and Communications

  • Learn to make devices that talk to each other (serial bus, radio or infrared)

Digital Fabrication Applications and Implications

  • Learn about the broader applications of digital fabrication and what Neil Gershenfeld and his graduate students at MIT are currently working on
  • Guest lectures from MIT grad students and other industry professionals

Invention, Intellectual Property, and Business Models

  • Guest lectures from experts in the field
  • Students work on their final projects

Digital Fabrication Project Development

  • Using the skills you have learned, plan and document a final project that integrates at least two of the topics covered in the course
  • Students work on their final projects

Final Project Presentations

  • Labs around the world meet to present their final projects