Appropriate Technology in Vigyan Ashram

August 20th, 2009

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I visited Vigyan Ashram as part of the Fab5 conference in August 2009.

Dogs sleep as boys knit… the way things should be?

Vigyan Ashram means science village, and is a rural educational institute located near Pabal in Maharashtra, India. They teach a 2 year program to local people interested in what science and technology can do for them. Vigyan Ashram has had a fablab since 1992, and even though they do not have reliable grid electricity they manage to run a laser cutter, mill, vinyl cutter, scroll saw, soldering tools, etc.

cycle-powered watering crop and bamboo greenhouse

Most of the people who come to study at Vigyan Ashram work in agriculture, and a lot of the inventions that are made there have to do with agriculture. Above you can see Vigyan Ashram’s director Yogesh Kulkarni pedaling a cycle-powered watering system for the vegetable garden, next to a simplified greenhouse made from bamboo. The bicycle is next to a solar sill, which purifies rainwater to make it safe to drink.

Solar panels, DIY tractor, cookies!

Students learn how to build and fix their own tools, down to their homebrew tractor, which was made from 2000 dollars of locally sourced parts. Even if they could bring up the money to buy a ready-made tractor, it would be hard to get it all the way to Vigyan Ashram.

solar cooker and biofuel cells
Yogesh demos his cow dung biofuel cells as Kipp Bradford burns some newspaper.

Students also learn how to make solar cookers, biofuel cells and biofuel generators, and geodesic dome homes. The curriculum is as far as I can tell incredibly well tailored to the student’s needs: agriculture and rural living. The students and instructors are very resourceful and inventive, and grow and make delicious food too. I <3 Vigyan Ashram a lot!

Geodesic homes

More reading on Vigyan Ashram… is by nadya peek. she'd love to hear from you.