Hello, I'm Akila, a 30-year-old and mom of a toddler. I work in a non-profit organization called NISH in Trivandrum under the Ministry of Social Justice, Government of Kerala. My job is to match individuals with any disability with the right technology. Given the prohibitive cost of imported technology and the (poor) quality of indigenous technology, I have been forced into DIY more out of necessity than anything else, to make customized solutions for our clients who are mostly from a low-income background. I'm very excited about the idea of open-sourcing designs. Last week I could download a .stl file from the thingiverse profile (of someone I don't know from the other side of the planet) and print a finger grip modifier for one little girl who couldn't otherwise hold a pencil.
On a different note, I started out with an undergraduate in Biotechnology in Chennai and went on to do a Ph.D. in Computational and Systems Biology under the Singapore-MIT Alliance scholarship in the National University of Singapore from 2009-14. I had the good fortune of spending a semester in MIT, Boston in 2010. So I feel nostalgic doing yet another course associated with MIT now. For my Ph.D. I was dabbling with cells under microscopes and analysing the data computationally in a biology facility. However, you can take me out of Madurai but not the Madurai out of me. I was always longing to return to India and do something that can immediately benefit people around me.
I love running 10 kilometre races and listening to music. I feel blissful when I'm conversing with my friends at NISH in sign language or figuring out the best way to mount a communication device on someone's wheelchair. Fab academy course will also help me to hold more intelligent conversations about machines with my rocket scientist husband ;).
June 25, 2018
My final presentation got over on June 15, 2018 and I have almost completed all the pending documentation. Masato Takemura, my global evaluator, has been really good in pointing out oversights and appreciating good work. I understand my own strengths and constraints better. I leave with a nagging doubt - when a global movement like Fablab, with its flagship principles of collaboration, free thinking and sharing, is seeded in the more conservative parts of the world, how will it sustain unless these principles are upheld from the grassroot level?
If you are interested in talking about digital fabrication of assistive technology devices, mail me at email@example.com.
To know more about CATI (Centre for Assistive Technology and Innovation), visit this page (hoping to update it soon!). I hope to add my future projects at fablab to this Github page.