Hack The University




Earlier in the year the Product Research Studio joined up with our wing-commanders in DJCAD Make Space and RS Components to show our university how they could and arguable should operate. To move them from a traditional pre-web thinking institution into the new pull economy where the students lead the co-creation of the teaching and services they want. Ultimately we wanted to ask the question:

Can students collaboratively work with their university to make it work in the way they wanted to work?


This is what the day looked like…



This is a question we put to test with a 36 hour collaborative making event, or hack, in January 2015. With direct involvement from the most senior academic, management and support staff from across the university, we were a little nervous that we were opening a new door into a new way of working – that too be honest, we were not entirely sure what world it might open up on to.

So what worked?


The students
The students were AMAZING. Really, they blew away any prior expectation of how they would respond. We were confident that they would work hard and give quality outputs… but not quite at the scale that they did. They worked through the night (thanks to our wonderful Computing school for hosting!) and deep into new territories. Making ideas, concepts, prototypes and proving that there are an incredible range of options for our university (and others I might add) to think differently about the way universities deliver education and services.

The mentors
The mentors were incredibly committed. With pretty much round-the-clock support – they helped the students reflect-on, shape and deliver highly relevant original ideas that worked. The role of the mentors started three months before the event through building the right set of challenges and providing resources to support those challenges. It was very much a co-created space for students to play within.

A space to make
DJCAD Make space with @alinapier and @robcojackson was the heart of the event. Taking ideas from paper to reality through digital making and open hardware. Oh and not to forget the table tennis… althrough @cyberdees thinks we’ve a long way to go to match up to his MozSpace skills…

A future looking RS Components
A massive thank you to RS components for providing an incredible prize of 3D printer, Arudino, Bare Conductive and Raspberry Pi.  Their support for the event has continued well past the 36 hours and has embedded deep into the learning and skills of our students. Don’t take my word – take a look at what our winning students, James Williams, Rhoda Ellis, Ryand Woods and Will Duncan have been doing with their prize in the 3 months following the event…


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