Imagine an 11 floors concrete building in the middle of the 2 most wealthy and trendy districts of Lima: welcome in the UTEC University! Like his disruptive design, this university aims to kick the private educational anthill to become a key actor for the engineers of tomorrow. His mission: develop a new engineering model to shape creative professionals able to identify social needs to design effective solutions with their comprehensive scientific background. What best to reach this vision than a Fablab? No need to convince the former Director of the industrial career, Luis Peña Mendoza, who decided in 2016 to invest in a makerspace as soon as he got his FabAcademy certification. He wasn’t alone in this project: he could count on the support of the institute TecSup which shares with UTEC the same president and benefits from years of experience and reputation in technical education and digital fabrication.
If the first year objective was to make every student work in the Fablab to create their industrial project, to foster investigation and innovative products creation, its strategy changed with the arrival of a new Director, Rolando Vargas, and a coordinator dedicated to the space, Isaac Robles. Such as the university, which regularly changes its operating mode since its creation in 2013, the Fablab has seen some significant changes occurred to fit with the new strategies of UTEC and students needs and to integrate good practices shared by other labs. The changes were also physical: the first space of 75m2 located in the 4th floor doubled its size and the new machines such as CNC, laser cutter where installed in new space of 150 m2 in the ground floor because of their weight and vibration. Even if the investigation lines and the innovation objectives remain, the short-term objective is to develop engineers with skills as good in technology such as social behavior. To the question “Who are you?”, Isaac’s team answer with metaphors such as the one of a carpenter: “We are makers building projects but overall through our shared work we are building our expertise and personal path.” This place is now opened to anyone and Isaac doesn’t hesitate to make this clear and unequivocal statement “What we do is boring” to break the injunction of innovation and to attract people attention what they can learn rather than what they will produce. The space values “Create, cooperate and iterate” have thus replaced “ Create, criticize and innovate”.
The next stage? In the short term, to attract more students from all the careers. In the midterm, to collaborate with companies to work on real case project. In the long-term, gather the fabrication spaces of UTEC (the Garage, the BioLab, …) to create a multidisciplinary learning center where students learn all the skills they need by doing and by collaborating.