Factor e Farm visit

Category: , , By Mike
On December 26th, I had the great opportunity to visit the Factor E Farm in the KC area. This farm is run by some amazing people with an amazing vision, a group of people unlike I have ever met. If you don't believe me, you should check it out for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Put simply, the goal of those at the Factor e Farm is to create a world class research center that works towards decentralizing technology so that it can be used by humans the world around. This would be accomplished through collaboration, mostly through the internet, with people from all over to design and implement engineering projects that are completely open-source and available to anyone to view, change and critique. This would in turn create an open-source society and economy where everyone enjoys a good quality of life while not having to pay expensive prices for products that have been copyrighted by individuals and corporations. Marcin, the lead of the farm, envisions a future where these technologies will allow for everyone to live a good life while still being considerate of the environment and our deep connection to it.

Now if this seems a little out there to you, you're absolutely right. The Factor e Farm is on the forefront of what could possibly be a revolution in society as well as in economics. The idea of decentralizing ALL technology and putting it in the hands of the average citizen is a complete 180 from how the United States economy currently works. This is exactly what draws me to this humble farm. As Buckminster Fuller once said, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." That is exactly what is being done at the Factor e Farm, the building of a whole new model.

Currently, the Factor e Farm's first project, the Compressed Earth Block press, was a resounding success. This machine uses a 20 ton press and actuator-controlled hopper to create bricks that can be used in housing or other structures. This is one of the first engineering projects the Factor e Farm has accomplished. Similarly, I will be doing my senior engineering capstone project over this CEB press. This project will include a thorough finite element analysis as well constructing and testing our model. The goal is to create a CEB press that can be used by the Factor e Farm, as well as advance the research that is being done at the Factor e Farm. I will make frequent updates on my progress here, as well as at the Factor e Farm blog.

Please see the video below for a demonstration of the farm's CEB press.


5 comments so far.

  1. Brittany January 10, 2008 at 4:36 PM

    Thanks for such an excellent post about our farm. I missed your visit, as I was with family for the holidays.

    Marcin said in his last conversation with you, that the CEB press was "too simple" of a project and would not challenge your knowledge of mechanical engineering to be a sucessful capstone thesis. Is this accurate?

    If so, it says a lot about our education system. I'd be interested in your comments.

    Brittany at Factor e.
  2. Mike January 10, 2008 at 6:07 PM
    hi brittany,

    marcin was correct. we are running into some issues with the CEB press being too simple for a thesis project. the issues are that each group has 5 people, so the project must be fairly in depth. the CEB press would probably be fine for a single student to handle in one semester, but for 5 students, there will probably be too much idle time.

    also, since it is a mechanical engineering course, the project is supposed to encompass the knowledge we've gained in mechanical engineering over the past 4-5 years. as this is quite a bit of knowledge, we have alot to prove with this one project. its unfortunate that we can't branch out too much, but understandable.

    also, funding is probably the biggest issue. since we only get $500 from the school, this leaves a large gap to finish the CEB project. additional funding can be acquired, but generally the school will take their funding back if an outside source is acquired (such as a company or individual). so this is another major set back. unless of course the factor e farm wants to write us a blank check! :)

    either way, if this project doesn't go through, there are other opportunities. i'll keep you all updated. sorry if this wasn't the best news.

  3. Michelle Ajamian July 1, 2008 at 1:19 PM
    hi mike-
    i just found your site and wonder where factor e is as we are heading to columbia, missouri in november. are they nearby?
    we are doing a SARE project and jsut getting around to thinking about boosting our presence on the net. you can check out the usda site blog at http://ncrsare.blogspot.com/2008/04/new-staple-crops-coming-to-ohio-and.html
  4. Ama February 25, 2009 at 7:16 AM
    oh man! did your school say that this project was "too simple"? is helping the third world level citizens of our own country find housing affordible and materials brought up from UNDERFOOT "too simple?" arghl. that sucks.
    Drop out and go back to the farm, the world needs you more than some firm making ugly buildings for ugly industry...

    one love, and respects to you Mike! Keep up the good fight, its the only one worth fighting (we just went to OSE Factor-e Farm as well, and I was thrilled to find your blog about the CEB press)

    Ama & Nate
    currently WWOOFing in MI
  5. Inalienable Rights May 1, 2011 at 5:11 PM
    What kind of bricks are these? Are they fired? Are they stabilized with additions like asphalt emulsion?

    If they are just dried and compressed what type of soil is required and how stable are they in a rainy climate?

    I do not see an option to be notified of replies :-(

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