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Partnering with Big Business to Drive Innovation

Indigenous Digital Excellence
Graham Farrer, Specialist – Environment at Rio Tinto receiving the model created by Ernest Gondarra, Indigenous Digital Entrepreneur, ALPA


Indigenous Digital Excellence
Ernest Gondarra with his partly finished commissioned Rio Tinto Model
Indigenous Digital Entrepreneur
Ernest Gondarra, ALPA Millingimbi, working on his Rio Tinto Model using Tinkercad.

Remote Indigenous Digital Entrepreneur, Ernest Gondarra, ALPA,

partnering with Rio Tinto to Drive Innovation

Ernest’s First Design, CAD & 3D Printing Job as a Remote Indigenous Digital Entrepreneur

“On Tuesday this week, Rio Tinto took delivery of a 3D Printed model designed and developed by Ernest Gondarra, from ALPA CDP at Milingimbi in north-east Arnhem Land.  This is the first commercial delivery of a 3D Printed object developed by the Plastic Fantastic Project.  This is a project developed by Lisa Sommerville from ALPA that supports education through delivering an innovative, fun and educational activity as an incentive for school attendance.

The project brief for the project from Rio Tinto was to develop a 3D display of mine groundwater for a health, safety and environment community fair.  The model was accepted by Graham Farrer, Environment Specialist with Rio Tinto Gove Operations who was very happy and believes that this model will be particularly useful in stakeholder engagement.

Background on Ernest Gondarra, Indigenous Digital Entrepreneur

Ernest Gondarra, who designed the model after receiving training from Modfab lives in the remote community of Milingimbi and is a champion for design, CAD, 3D Printing and Recycling.  He is the father of six children ranging from 11 to 20 and his eldest daughter is one of the first female Crocodile Islands Rangers.  He is a quiet achiever and wise elder in the community with cultural authority.  He is passionate about design, CAD and 3D Printing and what it offers to adults and students in remote communities.

Ernest is also a capable 3D print technician and maintains the 3d printers in Milingimbi to keep them in top working condition.  He has developed numerous designs such as a fish shaped SD card holder, trophies for the Gatjirrk Festival, pendants, 3D printed stamps to establish himself as a leader in the areas of Design, CAD, 3D Printing and recyling of HDPE materials. Before the training through the plastic Fantastic Project Ernest had never used a computer before.

Why 3D Printing in Remote Communities?

3D Printing is a rapidly expanding industry, the technology is already used in manufacturing and has applications across a range of sectors.

For remote communities, 3D Printing provides the opportunity to access products that would otherwise be costly and difficult to source and transport.  The technology is empowering, that it allows users to create tailored solutions onsite and immediately.

3D Print and design software is highly visual and spatial in its user interface and does not immediately demand high English literacy and this greatly reduces the barriers for indigenous participants to engage.

Plastic Fantastic Project offering Outcomes Through Innovation & Education

ALPA believes in education as a cornerstone for empowerment and our focus in the Plastic Fantastic Project is supporting education that delivers an innovative, fun and educational activity as an incentive for school attendance, through the Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) ALPA operates in five communities.

We train job seekers in the communities who then gain casual employment in running workshops to train children, and completing commercial design projects such as this, to create tech jobs in remote communities and open up new possibilities.


Alastair King, CEO, ALPA “

Copyright 2016. Modfab.