Thanks to the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, OSHWA took a giant step toward expanding open source hardware in academia with our new Open Hardware Creators in Academia Fellowship. We look forward to expanding future cohorts and the guides or playbooks they will create to advance open hardware within academia.

We released our cohort’s Enabling Practices document, which contains several links and checklists inside the document itself. While creating this document through the lens of shared ‘Best Practices’, the cohort quickly recognized that their University structures, even limited to an American cohort, were so vastly different, that one set of best practices would not suffice. Some academics owned their research and others did not, some had a form of Tech Transfer Office and others did not, many spanned the landscape of positions one could hold at a University. Some had their Dean’s support in open hardware and others did not. Depending on these differences, “best” practices varied drastically.  Some enabling practices may not be a one-size fits all solution, but our fellows and the universities they navigate represent a broad spectrum of American universities. We shifted the terminology to enabling practices to encompass more types of universities, where “best” would imply that one university type would be prioritized with which practices work in that system.

The main take away from these sessions collectively was that there is a difference between the creation of open hardware and the advocacy for open hardware to have a place in academia. These roles took different skill sets to move forward, different verbiage, and worked toward different outputs. These conversations were merely a starting point. There is much discussion over time needed to truly force change for higher education to default to open hardware.

We compiled a list of links and resources this Fellowship created, with newly added cohort documents. There are still several fellows waiting for Journal publication dates as well, so check back for new resources!

Cohort documents:

2023 Open Hardware Summit Talks:

Individual Fellow Outputs: