Pallab is back at FabLab Nepal!

6 September 2021 - Rachana Khatri

By Pallab Shrestha

Nepal Communitere launched the first ‘FabLab’ in Nepal in January 2021 in partnership with Field Ready, MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, and Dassault Systemes Solidworks. FabLab consists of advanced digital fabrication machines and resources, which can be used to make almost ‘anything’. However, in order to properly run the FabLab, and to make the best use of the machines, we at FabLab Nepal (Nepal Communitere), understood we needed to equip ourselves with the right skills, knowledge, and training. So as the technical lead for FabLab Nepal, I left for Kerala’s Super FabLab to attend a seven-month-long intense digital fabrication training from Fab Academy in February 2021!

My journey in Kochi, Kerala started with a two weeks quarantine followed by a week of only installing the equipment at the lab. I was a little anxious at the beginning since it was a new place and I was already a few weeks late in joining the course due to the soft launch of FabLab in Nepal at the end of January 2021. But eventually, with my friends in Kochi and the guidance of my instructors, I was able to quickly adapt to the schedule by working over the weekends. 

At the start of training, there were days when I would get overwhelmed with interesting information and learnings in Super FabLab. Each week, we were assigned different tasks that had to be documented online for local and global reviews. Similarly, based on the new topics that were introduced, we were engaged in creating a new product every week. I did not have prior experience in electronics but I was able to learn a lot in this journey.

I got to play, create, test, and innovate multiple products each week such as rocking chair, cardboard table, bracelet, modular laser cut rocket model, magnetic sensor module, servo motor module, etc. My final graduation project was a medicine dispenser or pill dispenser aimed at people who require daily medication. Check out my Final project on Fab Academy 2021. – YouTube!

Different than how I thought it would be! I was already running late to catch up with content after joining the program. Things got even more challenging when the lab was closed because of the second wave of COVID in India. It was a very overwhelming situation for us at the lab and I was not sure if I should leave or stay amidst the uncertainty. We were taking classes online although it was very hard to learn without using the lab. My family and the management team in Nepal were worried about me, asking me to come back home while I was struggling to decide whether to return home for safety or stay there to complete what I came for. With the lockdown in Kerala, I was left alone in my apartment for two months, but I decided to stay and complete the training. It was the first time I had been alone in an apartment for such a long time- hard but not impossible! And with patience, our lab finally opened on June 21st and we completed our final project and assignments in the remaining one month.

The moment of returning home back was emotional! I could not believe I had already finished my training in Kerala and was time to return back. I could compare the difference between me when I just arrived in Kochi in February 2021 and returning back in August 2021. Though it felt sad to be leaving Kochi with the most memorable moments in this with friends, food like mandi, puttu, pazhampori, kappa, and Super FabLab, I was equally excited to come back and share all my learning with the users at FabLab Nepal!

I graduated and received my certificate after I returned to Nepal! Unlike other degrees and certificates I have received, this is the most intensive and memorable one of my life. Thanks to RAEngineering, Nepal Communitere, Field Ready, my instructors at Super FabLab- Kerala, and my friends at Fab Academy without whom it would not be possible!

With these seven months of amazing and rigorous training in Kerala, I’m now ready to share the learnings and skills with our team and users through Nepal FabLab. We are rolling out cool digital fabrication workshops this month where we will be teaching participants about the possibilities of digital fabrication and product design. We now plan to partner with universities, colleges, and schools to make this a hub for ideas and innovation! Watch out and apply now for the upcoming workshops at FabLab Nepal here!