The makerspaces will be an important part of the Joint Research Center Zeeland (JRCZ). Each floor has one of these large, open spaces where students, lecturers and researchers can work together on solutions to social issues.
Makerspaces are a relatively new phenomenon in higher and academic education. When these kinds of spaces emerged, over a decade ago, they were mainly used by engineers. However, they have become places where students from multiple programmes work in a multidisciplinary manner on solutions to complex social issues.
This will soon also be the case in the JRCZ. Concepts such as cooperation, innovation and creativity come together in these makerspaces. "They are lively, stimulating places where students, lecturers and researchers from different disciplines can work together on challenging tasks, based on questions from society. The labs are located around the makerspaces," says leading lector Robert Trouwborst of the Applied Research Centre Technology Water Environment. In addition to the makerspaces, there will be brainstorm rooms on every floor. There the teams can quietly discuss and think about solutions to problems around the themes of water, energy, food and biobased economy. "The working method should inspire everyone."
Developing talents Although they are fairly new, much research has already been done into the added value of makerspaces. In these spaces, students can optimally develop their talents, say the authors of the article 'The value of higher education academic makerspaces for accreditation and beyond'. They work together with fellow students and colleagues who have different knowledge, education, experience and skills than themselves. "Through spaces like this, many unique collaborations have emerged between colleagues who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to work together."
The big advantages of makerspaces are that students, teachers and researchers get inspired by (the projects and ideas of) others, everyone can easily share everything with each other, and because of this people (can) adapt and improve their own creations and designs. The multidisciplinary approach also leads to better solutions for complex social issues. The organization of the JRCZ must stimulate this open working method. "You have to ensure that the right people come together all the time. That requires a lot of organisational capacity. After all, nothing happens by itself."
Critical look When students work independently, they feel they have to come up with something original. Gathering ideas from others then feels like 'cheating', while it is only instructive. It is by working together, sharing ideas and taking a critical look at each other's products that you learn a lot. "We want to provide our students with as much knowledge as possible, so that they add value to society and are resilient and flexible in that respect," says JRCZ project leader Adri de Buck. "Not only their professional development is important, but also their personal development. Four things matter then: learning to learn, stimulating creativity, working together in teams on complex issues and knowing that what you do has an impact on society."