By Bipin Sharma
Women represent only 26% of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals working worldwide, according to the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). You can probably guess what the percentage is in Nepal, which is undoubtedly low. This represents the inequality in the sector while also providing a chance for countries like ours to encourage more female participation through appropriate exposure and leverage their talents and skills to advance the country’s development.
At Fablab Nepal, we envision providing means and access to knowledge, tools, and resources to empower the people of Nepal, regardless of gender, social status, ability, and economic background. Walking towards this vision, we are glad to share our collaboration with Smart Cheli with the aim to bridge the gender gap in the field of STEM where we successfully conducted a two-day basic digital fabrication workshop focused on CAD design and 3D printing for girls. Smart Cheli is a social enterprise working with the aim to create gender equity in this digital world through STEM education, a past coworker at Nepal Communitere, and an active member of Impact Hub Kathmandu community! Recognizing this amazing opportunity to collaborate for our common vision, Smart Cheli’s alumni of their unique STEM mentorship program attended the workshop at FabLab Nepal where they were able to practice and have hands-on experience of various tools. On the first day of the workshop, participants learned about 2D sketching and 3D modeling through project-based learning, and on the second day, they learned the fundamentals of 3D printing and had hands-on experience developing their product using a 3D printer.
The participants were so eager to learn and curious throughout the program. Their curiosity, along with their ingenuity, resulted in a variety of products at the end of the workshop that left us with awe. The product concept ranged from chemical structure to sports and movie characters to iconic heritage structures! It was a proud moment for us and our partner Smartcheli to see these young women experimenting and excelling in STEM sector courses and that we were able to jointly provide that platform to curious minds!
“The 2 days 3D printing workshop was one of its kind for me. I was introduced to a new face of technology through the workshop and ways how I could take a step towards learning to be a part of it. The highlight and the most exciting moment of the workshop for me was at the end of the workshop when we were asked to make a 3D model of our choice which we could print out using the devices of the FabLab Nepal. Seeing the model get its true shape out of my laptop screen was truly rewarding. Our facilitator was kind enough to answer all the inquisitive questions I had throughout the workshop duration and even offline. Overall the experience was wonderful and I hope to be a part of future workshops held by FabLab Nepal. ”Kussum Ghimire, Participant Smart Cheli
The level of effort that the whole team of FabLab puts in the preparation and follow up of all the workshops, confirms the fact that the trainees pick up all the insights, learnings and knowledge. I got the opportunity to attend the workshop and it turned out to be really fruitful for me! I just want FabLab to continue the great work they are doing! Best wishes.”Sulata Dhakal, Program Director Smart Cheli
“Got the opportunity to know FabLab through Smart Cheli and am incredibly grateful. A great place to learn quickly covered all the basics of 3D in just two days. Provides prompt service and great communication at each learning stage in a professional manner.”Sayjal Shrestha, Mentee, STEM Mentorship ProgramSmart Cheli
As we are growing in terms of scale and resources at FabLab Nepal, we are always eager for meaningful local collaborations and partnerships to create impact at scale. In parallel, we are running our project FabLab Nepal Builds STEAM for Nepal’s Youth’ to increase access to STEAM education and skills of youth and educators of the Community and Government schools (CGS) in Kathmandu and Lalitpur with a focus on advancing gender and social inclusion. Stay tuned as we will be launching some more exciting projects!