Out of Russia
Olympics aside, Fab Lab scholar enjoying chance to work in U.S.
February 5, 2014
With the Winter
Olympics underway, the world spotlight is shining brightly on Russia.
Roman Fetter, like
most Russians, is excited about the games and the international attention they
are bringing to his country. He's especially eager to see how Russia's figure
skating, biathlon and hockey teams fare. "We are proud of our teams," he said,
"and we'll be glad to see our sportsmen on the podium."
Russians, however, Fetter will be following the games from afar, thousands of
miles away while working at University of Wisconsin-Stout. Fetter, of Moscow,
arrived at UW-Stout in late January, about the time world media and Olympic
athletes began arriving in Sochi, Russia, for the games.
He doesn't mind.
Fetter, 23, is working this semester as a research scholar at UW-Stout's Discovery
Center Fab Lab, a digital fabrication lab in the Applied Arts Building.
UW-Stout's Fab Lab is connected to other such labs around the world, including
one at Fetter's alma mater, Moscow's National University of Science and
"I'm very glad to be
here. It's a good international experience," Fetter said. "The atmosphere is
Working for the
semester at UW-Stout, in some ways, will be like Fetter's own Olympics. It's
his chance to see how his skills measure up on an international level, to
improve his English and to make new friends and explore the culture and
traditions of another country.
After earning a
master's-level degree in mechanical engineering and metal forming process from NUST
MISiS, Fetter began working in the school's Fab Lab, leading to his opportunity
to be a visiting scholar for the semester at UW-Stout. The lab at NUST MISiS is
a year older than UW-Stout's, which opened in February 2013.
The Fab Lab at
UW-Stout is part of the Discovery Center, a cross-disciplinary umbrella
organization that advances the university's mission through collaboration with
business and industry. Cooperation by the Discovery Center, led by Director
Randy Hulke, and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, led by
Dean Maria Alm, was instrumental in bringing Fetter to campus.
"We're excited about the opportunity to bring Roman's
engineering background and digital fabrication experience to our Fab Lab and
the campus community. This is the type of collaborative exchange that advances
UW-Stout's polytechnic mission and strengthens the Discovery Center's
position in MIT's global Fab Lab network," said Hulke, referencing the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which founded the network.
At UW-Stout, one of
Fetter's goals will be to help train art students in the Fab Lab so that they
can bring their ideas to life using the special equipment, such as the 3D
printer and laser cutter. He has experience in Russia using the same equipment
while creating conceptual objects.
"I see the
opportunities in the lab. When you see these things come to life, it's very
good. In the Fab Lab, you're like a painter but you're not using paint, you're
using machines," he said.
In the foreseeable
future, Fetter hopes UW-Stout exchange students will visit Russia so that he
can work with them in the NUST MISiS Fab Lab.
Fetter was born in
Syktyvkar, a city of about 300,000 and the capital of the republic of Komi. His
hometown is about 1,000 miles from Moscow. His mother is an elementary school
art teacher and his father a furniture-maker.
He is living with a
host family in Menomonie, which he finds to be friendly like UW-Stout. "It's very
good hospitality," he said, adding that he also has been enjoying the food.
UW-Stout connection with
Along with the Fab
Lab connection, Fetter's chance to work in the U.S. and at UW-Stout was
enhanced last summer when UW-Stout signed a collaboration agreement with NUST
MISiS, formerly called the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, or MISiS.
The schools will collaborate initially on research,
scholarly activity, student and faculty exchanges and visits.
NUST MISiS, founded in 1918, has about 12,000 students in
its Moscow and branch campuses. A research-intensive school, NUST MISiS is a
leader in Russia for training engineers and scientists, especially in materials
science, metallurgy and nanotechnology.
A NUST MISiS official visited UW-Stout last summer after two
UW-Stout officials visited NUST MISiS last spring, leading to the collaboration
agreement. The UW-Stout officials were Alm and Nagesh Shinde, a professor in
the School of Art and Design.
Alm, who speaks Russian and has done scholarly activity in
Russia for the past 20 years, hopes to see UW-Stout art and design students
work with NUST MISiS engineers.
Alm and Shinde also toured the Moscow offices of the Leo
Burnett Agency, an advertising agency based in Chicago with offices worldwide.
The agency's Moscow office designed the official gold, silver and bronze medals
for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Shinde, who previously was a senior art director for Leo
Burnett in Chicago, would like to establish a working relationship between the agency's
Moscow office and UW-Stout's School of Art and Design as the university's
Russian connections become stronger.
To learn more about UW-Stout's Discovery Center and Fab Lab or
School of Art and Design, click on the hyperlinks.