Industry jobs have excluded people with mobility disabilities as it was comprised of many physical activities. Automation, robotics, new technologies such as additive manufacturing have revolutionized the industrial workplace, meaning cleaner environments and a more "hands-off" approach. We want to open opportunities for the physically impaired to work in industries, teaching them digital fabrication, as it is not taught in schools, proving that the able and disabled can work side by side.
The proposed location is Berceni, located in the underdeveloped southern area of Bucharest.
The Berceni area has an industrial heritage, lost after the fall of Communism. Currently the industrial spaces are being used by local small businesses, some of which are actually working with digital fabrication.
Although it is well connected to the Capital through the subway, it is an underdeveloped, poor area of Bucharest, lacking a civic hub for young individuals. The former industrial spaces, empty spaces left in waiting, are currently in an unwelcoming state but present an opportunity to build community activators such as educational hubs or democratic maker spaces.
Moreover, the issue of societal inclusion is a state-wide problem, as facilities are not handicap-accessible. Also, it is worth mentioning that industrial worker average age is high in Romania, as teen interest is low.
In Bucharest and the area of Ilfov County, a total of approximately 14 000 physically impaired are registered, of which almost 400 are children. The exact number may be very different, as in order for them to register they have to physically go to centers and with no infrastructure in place, it may seem impossible to many of them.
The population of Berceni is around 110 000, of which 12% are minorities. 64% of the people living in District 5, including Berceni, described the area as "lacking civilization".
On a more positive note, the city currently has 39000 students in theoretical schools, 17000 Polytechnical students, 11000 students in vocational schools and, the elite, 2500 young tech competitors.
The location will allow us to bring together minorities, disabled and techy teens.
First would be participant enrollment, implying a series of presentations held at technical education institutions and local community centers. After that, whoever is interested is invited to visit the maker space.
After enrollment, we would start with a few brainstorming sessions to establish what physical projects we would undergo, as it is important to have a finite product in mind, instead of abstract theoretical education.
We would conduct a series of workshops dedicated to young individuals of different backgrounds in which we would teach them 3D modelling, CAM modelling and fabrication machine operating (CNC routing, 3D printing, robotic arm use cases and programming). The workshops would be mostly of practical nature, as learning retention is over 80% through practice.
We hope this project inspires industrial companies to look into new ways of manufacturing and the possibility of hiring people of all backgrounds, regardless of their physical abilities.
We also want to popularize the idea of working in an innovative industrial production facility, as it has evolved drastically, due to automation and new, environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
We want to show teenagers that they have many more career options thanks to latest technological innovation and that anyone can benefit from digital fabrication, an exciting and undiscriminating domain.
Most importantly, we would like to promote the idea that digital fabrication is, in fact, for everyone, from artists to airplane manufacturers, creating jobs for both elite students and dropouts.
We plan on building a maker space dedicated to all, accessible to the physically impaired and shared by young individuals of any background, regardless of physical limitations. In our past activities, we've observed that project based activities bring participants in an accepting mindset, as they are focused in finishing the project through team work, seeing past each other's physical or ethnic differences.
Berceni, as any underdeveloped area in Romania, has a larger percentage of Roma population and a lower percentage of educated young individuals. Through project-based activities, participants not only acquire the necessary skill set but also the experience of successfully collaborating with others from unfamiliar backgrounds and lifestyles, resulting in self esteem and collaboration.
The fact is nobody teaches you digital fabrication in high school or even college. Once you have graduated and want to work or start your own business, you realize that most of the information that has been given to you in school doesn't always apply in reality.
Moreover, most disabled teens aren't even aware of the fact that they can actively take part in producing a product without having to stand up, pick up things or operate machinery by hand.
As such, as far as digital fabrication goes, everybody should have more or less the same chances for a career.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
The total budget includes HUBS' contribution - machines it already has access to: CNC routers and 3D printers, filming and editing capacity, and other services up to €23293, an amount that has already been invested.
HUBS cash contribution will be of €7466 from donations for utilities, online promotion, website development.
We would like to use the budget requested to buy equipment for the machines, consumables, to cover space occupancy costs and to acquire a robotic arm equipped with CMT.
A critical feedback would be very helpful, as we understand that we're addressing a problem that we consider widespread but have only identified education as a direction of action. We would like to hear comments on the communities we've targeted and the feasibility of our project.