Cooperation, Creativity, Responsibility and Universality are values defended by the UAO (Universidad Autónoma de Occidente) since its creation in 1969 and the best application of those values lies in the heart of the University where is located the Fablab Cali.
To come in this space, you won’t need any authorization : just cross the entrance and look for the the 2 floors, in the middle of the campus, dedicated to the University laboratories. In the middle of dizains of machines and collaborative spaces (inno lab, media lab, electronic lab, metal lab, …), you will find the Fab Lab opened in 2012 by Freddy Naranjo, dean of the engineering department and Fabmanager of the place.
“The root of this university is the community : we are a non-profit structure which aims to empower citizens to address the current and future challenges either local or mondial. When I discovered the concept of Fablab, I saw the opportunity to go further in our actions by giving a free access to our machines to anyone but mainly to foster innovation and creativity through a new community of makers coming from different social background, educational levels, organisations. Our students need to be prepared to jobs that don’t exist yet and every citizen should have access to technology and knowledge to tackle personal and local challenges.”
6 years later, the idea of Freddy Naranjo came true : the Fablab is used by students and teachers from all the fields since the first year of their studies, it trained dizains of artists, citizens, children during workshops, it gathered local and international actors during events and raised government and companies awareness about digital fabrication. Complex medical prothesis or advanced home made 3D printer coupled with plastic recycler are examples of useful projects made by team of students in the collaboration with teachers, medical companies, end users.
The next step of this visionary and committed dean is to develop a local red of makerspaces, based on the spirit of Fabcity, to make the space physically more accessible to everyone and to offer a more personalized support and animation. For that, he can relied on recent successes with the creation of 2 makerlabs in public libraries 2 years ago, one of whom got excellent results in a poor and violent district (Comuna 20). Aligned with the city objective of using new technology to develop Cali, the fablab team may be requested to help other schools, colleges and universities to create their own fablab. A perfect application of the maker spirit : convince with concrete examples and start small to secure the growth.