FOSTERING LEARNING COMMUNITIES THROUGH STUDENT-LED PROTOTYPING WORKSPACES
DS 88: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE17), Building Community: Design Education for a Sustainable Future, Oslo, Norway, 7 & 8 September 2017
Editor: Berg, Arild; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon; Gulden, Tore; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Pavel, Nenad
Author: Barrie, Jeff
Institution: Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Section: Creativity and Innovation in Design Education
Makerspaces or Hackerspaces are initiatives designed to bring together like-minded individuals, integrating with the wider community and across disciplines within educational establishments. This paper focuses on well-known academic makerspaces and initiatives in the UK, such as the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH), and compares their approach with that of US equivalents, most notably the Invention Studio at Georgia Institute of Technology. With high demand on workshop space, prototyping and machine tools, as well as limitations on staff time and technical support in institutions, this paper investigates the benefits and challenges of implementing an accessible, studentled workspace initiative in a UK higher-education institution by comparing the hack/makerspace ideology and approaches between UK institutions and that of their US counterparts. The definition of a hackspace as well as socio-cultural and academic differences are explored. The paper concludes that, whilst there are benefits for both students, staff and the institution, there are notable differences in approach between the UK and US. Issues surrounding supervision and safety may require mitigation. New and expanding UK academic hackspaces (such as the ICAH) and, in particular Mechanical Engineering students, could benefit from the socially driven, bottom up management approach as seen in the US.