This post is an extension of Justine and Scott’s presentation from the recent First and Further Year Experience Forum. For more content from this forum, check our Students as Partners tag. 


Can you please give a run-down of your involvement with the project?

This was a student-led humanitarian engineering studio. It can be best described here: Free-range engineering.

My involvement was turning the given ‘template’ into the subject, which included:

  • Assessment Tasks (Portfolio, Reflections, Project)
  • Subject Framework (Design Thinking)
  • Face Hours (Block Mode, 6 Weeks)

My role was therefore using that and creating content (which was curating a context of Nepal and a specific community I work with in Nepal) and project scope for students to develop.

During the studio, we had over 20 industry members come join, consults and present to the students, had an industry prize attached to the panel-chosen project. We utilised some of UTS’s best resources. This included the Data Arena and 360* camera footage, which created student immersion of Nepal, whilst being in Ultimo.

Student experience was very positive, project quality was very high and industry engagement was positive. One student in particular came into the first class stating something like: ‘I don’t know what humanitarian engineering is, I enrolled in another studio but that was cancelled and I was allocated into this one.’ This student ended up really enjoying the subject, understanding humanitarian engineering (had great growth in his context of what being an engineer was to him) and has been working with the industry sponsor for a year now!

What have been the benefits of the project from your perspective?

Learning about international development/international engineering and about a community in Nepal, practice on a self-guided, but facilitated (by students/staff) project, and engagement with relevant members of industry (every class!).

What would be your tips to academics trying to involve students as partners?

Set a clear vision, let students work out what they would have like to be taught in a subject. The ‘success’ of this studio came fundamentally from making this a subject I wanted to be taught myself… It might be something that academics might not prioritise as much.

Is there anything you would do differently?

No, only minor things about having project briefs or more specific guides for students to go through. Maybe change the marketing of the name Humanitarian Studio to make it more broad. We only captured a specific type of audience by using that term…. Overseas Engineering? Engineering in Remote Communities?


Can you please give a run-down of the project?

Summer Studio A was developed in response to FEIT students wanting to study more subjects over Summer. They had also said that they wanted more engaging learning opportunities. The concept of the subject was to run many different studios in parallel. Most of these were run by academic staff, but several students had indicated an interest in developing and facilitating their own studios. In the first iteration, there were 4 studios led by students; Scott’s humanitarian studio, an aerospace studio, one on Smart Cities and one focused on an installation for Vivid.

What was the inspiration for the project?

See above. There was a need to enhance the student learning experience. The faculty had already offered some studio experiences within the curriculum. This was an opportunity to try something bigger.

How did you get the students involved?

They approached us! After that, the student facilitators attended all of our staff professional training sessions in preparation for the studio experience. They met one-on-one with teaching and learning staff and the subject coordinator, and other academics. Once underway, students were regularly visited during class time.

What have been the benefits of the project from your perspective?

Students have brilliant ideas about ways to design learning opportunities that would most engage them. Each of the studios run by students were evaluated extremely positively. These student facilitators were also able to leverage their amazing connections to industry.

Is there anything you would do differently?

Not really. In fact we did the same again this year with three student-led studios in the areas of cybersecurity, AI and IOT.

Feature image by Shane Lo.

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