FabLabs are small workshops where members can go to work on digital fabrication projects, taking advantage of the space’s technology, which often includes 3D printers and CNC machines, among others. Though not without their issues, FabLabs are great places to work, learn, and meet other like-minded individuals. This week in in Jordan, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II inaugurated a public FabLab called TechWorks.

This flagship platform of the Crown Prince Foundation Initiative (CPFI), built as a national model of excellence, is meant to help answer the need for young people to have access to innovative tools. TechWorks offers a place for young makers, entrepreneurs, and thinkers to work together, and encourages technical education by providing proper resources and tools, along with “a level-playing field on which to compete,” according to foundation sources.

“His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II continuously encourages young, curious minds to create and innovate. In an effort to bring together learners, researchers and inventors, we anticipate FabLab’s success as an innovation hub for local creators to actualize their ideas,” wrote the Crown Prince Foundation (CPF). “The facility will promote collaborations between innovators of all sorts, as well as facilitate and support capacity-building projects, providing access to technology designed for the most advanced digital fabrication methods. FabLab will also provide incubator and mentoring services to those who wish to advance their creations into patentable and commercially feasible products.”

At the inauguration, HRH Crown Prince Hussein took a tour of the new society-based digital FabLab, and listened as all of the beneficiaries, which included creators, entrepreneurs, producers, and youth, explained the projects that will be able to go further through initiatives like TechWorks.

CPF CEO Tamam Mango said, “TechWorks in its essence tries to create a platform that starts with the facility, which is the FabLab, works from there to bring together a community of makers, thinkers and entrepreneurs with the focus on youth and from there it looks towards the larger ecosystem.”

Mango explained that a FabLab is there to help makers move all the way from having ideas to commercializing them.

“You can find equipment, skill sets, training courses and our focus within the near future is on outreach to the youth of Jordan,” Mango said in regards to TechWorks.

We are planning to either bring youth from various parts of Jordan to benefit from the FabLab or have a mobile FabLab that tours different parts of the country to reach the youth governorates so that the FabLab equipment could be a further benefit to the economy at large.

We hope to provide a platform for skillsets and 3D printing and machine learning as well as a wide variety of industries that have not been sparked sufficiently in Jordan.”

Mango says that anyone with an interest in joining the maker community should check out TechWorks, as there are many levels of programs available, starting from orientation all the way up to master classes taught by experts. To celebrate innovation in Jordan’s economic development, the platform will also help increase the establishment of new business models.

HRH Crown Prince Hussein inaugurates a youth-oriented innovative platform in Amman on Monday [Image: Courtesy of Royal Court]

TechWorks includes three dimensions to connect young people in Jordan with innovation networks both nationally and globally; the first of these is the accessible facility itself. The user-centric FabLab is meant to attract and support diverse segments of users, including young people, and provide access to programs that build capacity by focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, and becoming employable. It has several sections, including a 3D Printing Center of Excellence under the CPF, thanks to a gift from His Majesty King Abdullah.

This 3D Printing Center is one of the top Jordanian entities in Jordan that supports the maker movement. While the Jordan Times says the necessary knowledge to use new technologies, such as 3D printing, is lacking on a national level in the Middle Eastern kingdom, its rulers are definitely invested in speeding up adoption. The 3D Printing Center will help jump-start things.

The community is the second dimension of TechWorks, which provides expertise and infrastructure to makers, students, and researchers through a local institution. The “ecosystem-enriching hub” is the final dimension, which is looking to set up a national innovation value chain through supporting commercialization and bridging gaps.

Several projects have already been created at TechWorks, such as six projects by Jubilee School students that include a 3D printed water filter, a phone solar charger Iris mechanism, a smart home automation system using Bluetooth technology, and a smart voltmeter. Jordanian startup Acacus Technologies developed a machine learning Driverless Car, while the Classic Cars of Jordan project uses the TechWorks 3D printer to manufacture redesigned car parts.

The Sager 1 initiative, which builds skills and awareness in the UAV space in the MENA region, developed its Racing Drones at TechWorks, and the Royal Jordanian Air Academy designed a personal gadget, worn around the arm or leg, that can support quick access to tools, so it won’t be necessary to lug around big toolboxes.

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