We are Viktor Ellevseth and Miriam Matsson, students at Electronic Systems Design and Innovation at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway. For the last year, we and two of our classmates have been part of a CHIC project with NTNU and the universities UBO in Brest, France and UNIST in Split, Croatia. We have been working to transfer the concept of our “Innovation Project”, and exchange ideas on education and teaching.
The week after Easter we were lucky enough to visit the university of UBO Brest in Brittany to get an insight into their learning environment and spread our teaching methods. The university has established a so-called “Fab Lab”, a makerspace where anyone can make anything. Their version of this is called “UBO Open Factory” and provides everything from laser cutters and a selection of 3D-printers to paper and crayons. The Open Factory consists of smaller programs like Musiclab, Oceanlab and Recyclab to name some. The latter collaborated with multiple laboratories by the university to recycle part of their plastic waste into furniture and other useful objects.
Just like other Fab Labs around the globe, UBO has a vision to be a place of learning, while having a
focus to help the local community and industry at the same time. Anyone can come by and try out their business idea and help their start-up off the ground. Furthermore, the lab made deals with companies which used their facilities for prototyping and small productions. These deals had made Open Factory economically self-sufficient and independent from the university.
During the visit we exchanged many ideas on teaching methods and how to implement these in the subjects of our universities. At Electronics Systems Design and Innovation at NTNU, the first semester of the study is an introduction to electronics through the Innovation Project. This is a project where students are given real-life problems from real-life companies and are supposed to use trial and error to create innovative solutions.
One of the days we stumbled upon a presentation from groups who were tasked to make board games for the visually impaired. This was part of another program called Handilab, which worked to help people with handicaps using innovative, but relatively simple technical solutions. We were inspired by how this lab created a spark in the children and changed their lives with small, creative inventions. Maybe something similar could become a future collaboration for our Innovation Project.
We also got to visit one of the university’s other campuses, called ÉSIAB, in the neighboring town of Quimper. We were introduced to the structure of their studies and got a tour of the different projects of the agrifood students. They had been 3D-printing chocolate figures and were currently working on exploring new recipes to make food easier to chew for stroke patients.
Other than “business” we explored some of the region of Brittany. During the week we went sightseeing in Brest, took a walk in Quimper and a drive to the westernmost point of France. We even got time for a short trip to Paris. On a trip around France you also get familiarized with authentic French and Breton culinary experiences. We truly enjoyed ourselves in Brest and are looking forward to further collaboration.