Visit to Vigyan Ashram

Nikhil and I visited Pune on the 16th of March to catch up with Capgemini, a company that we have been working with to spread the maker movement in corporates. The meeting went well, met their engineers and had a good discussion on how Makers Asylum can work with Capgemini.
On our way back, we wanted to visit some local maker spaces so we got in touch with Vigyan Ashram, Heram Labs and Doothings.
Vigyan Ashram was the closest to where we were and they have been known to be doing amazing things in the agricultural and rural entrepreneurship sector. That being something of my passion, we drove straight there.
The moment we reached, our jaws dropped!
Vigyan Ashram is situated in a small village near Pune called Palbal. It was founded 30 years back by a scientist who wanted to empower workers in rural India to start using their hands with technology and make. They have year long courses here that cost INR 23000 per year including food and hostel to stay and if students can’t pay, the fee is waived off.
They learn everything from welding, machining, poultry, agriculture, 3D printing and laser cutting. There is a full FAB lab inside their facility filled with digital manufacturing tools, including 3d printers, pcb cutting Modela PCB cutters and a epilog laser cutter. "FabLab"
Amazed by the equipment we met the principal who asked one of the students to take us for a tour of the space. Oooo This tour was something.
Pranay started by showing us the equipment inside the shed and explaining how each tool works. He soon got into the stuff people have been making there. From incubators for chicken eggs, to hydraulic machines, to cycles to a solar power cooker to a full bio gas plant.
We saw this huge shield made of mirrors about 3 times my height. Puzzled by what it does I asked him, It was a solar roti maker. It had solar panels attached to it, to control the direction it faced, and the glass mirrors converged the light onto another concave mirror that focused the sunlight to a pan to cook the Rotis. This was a perfect example of making something for the love and passion and to prove it can be done following true to my ideology.
There were students doing studies on agriculture, there was a fish farm, There was a lab to test food samples and blood samples. They sold the produce, to visitors and local villagers to sustain the space.
This place was like Heaven. All the students live in the facility, they have a minimum requirement to earn INR1000 in a year at the space, either by making food, or taking people on a tour(INR 20 per tour) of the facility. This is a superb model as it not only teaches them to be entrepreneurs but also makes them love their space as they are earning from it.
After the tour we found out they have a DIY lab setup within the city and some visitors from the Tokyo fablab are visiting them. Surabh from the Lab invited us to join them for dinner, so we head straight to meet them.  They were setting up a fablab in Lebanon and Tsuneo was working in tokyo with the fablab network and had just recently made a delta 3d printer. We shared stories on whats been happening in India and how Maker’s Asylum can work with FabLabs to grow the maker culture.
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