Creativity meets innovation: a revolution in teaching, learning and research
From the outside, it’s an impressive feat of architecture and engineering. Inside, it’s nothing short of transformational.
The new Engineering and IT Building represents a quantum shift in the way teaching, learning and research are designed at UTS. It’s the first of the new facilities under the City Campus Master Plan to embody the Learning 2014 initiative, underpinned by the UTS Model of Learning to enable our students to experience creative, integrated, collaborative learning all supported through the use of contemporary technologies.
Several collaborative theatres allowing for presentations, group work and technology-enabled activities – and for lecturers to move amongst and interact with the students rather than just stand at the front and deliver a lecture – have replaced more traditional, large lecture theatres. Throughout the building, collaborative classrooms with interactive whiteboards and LCD screens, moveable chairs and tables, and rotating lecterns facilitate a more open and interactive style of learning. Placement of these classrooms alongside specialist teaching and research laboratories throughout the building – on the same floors as academic and professional staff accommodation – encourages interaction and knowledge-sharing between staff and students.
Students also have more space to gather informally, whether socially or for group study. The ‘student hub’ on Level 5 is home to the FEIT Learning Precinct and the Women in Engineering and IT spaces for meeting and mentoring, while open-access, bookable ‘pods’ with LCD screens and computers for small group work are located on the lower floors. Throughout the building, lounge and study areas are fitted with numerous power outlets for charging laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices, and there are two large student computer labs.
While the UTS Data Arena, set for completion later this year, is a real showstopper, it’s much more than just a technological showpiece. The immersive 3D data visualisation facility – the most advanced of its kind in Australia – will allow researchers to bring their data to life and transport the viewer into the virtual environment. Interacting with the data in this way can reveal what’s there, what’s missing, and what was hidden beneath the surface, often for new and unexpected outcomes.
Research and teaching will benefit from the structure of the building itself, the ‘living lab’ fitted with a combination of over 3,000 individual sensors delivering real-time data on the structural and environmental health of the building.
The most disruptive technologies and ideas generated by staff and student research projects – those that stop you in your tracks – will be on show in the Disruptive Design Lab, giving the University and broader community a glimpse into just what collaboration, creativity and innovation can achieve.
Faculty of Engineering and IT staff are re-engineering their approaches to teaching and learning to make the best possible use of the new spaces the building provides, and the possibilities are endless. “This building is going to be absolutely humming with researchers, students, people doing really interesting things,” said Professor Mary-Anne Williams, Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory at UTS in a video produced to coincide with the official launch of the building on 12 June. “So the moment you walk in you’re going to feel like you can do anything. All the resources are there, you just have to decide what you’re going to do and how you’re going to change the world.”