Thursday, February 22, 2018

Building the Future in Canberra

Greetings from the TechLauncher Team Formation event at the Australian National University in Canberra. There are more than three hundred students hearing 30 second pitches from potential clients. The students then select the project they prefer and form a team. They have a year to build what the client wants, which is usually software, but could be engineering hardware. 

The room used in not on campus, as the
ANU Collaborative Learning (CLE) Building is still under construction. The university has leased an office building across the road and removed the internal walls on the ground floor to create a large flat floor classroom. There is a standard lectern, with audio-visual controls, on wheels at one end of the room. This wall has three video projectors. There are small fold up desks, one for each student, along with a lightweight plastic chair. To one side there are large LCD displays on wheels, which can be moved out for group work, with the desks and chairs rearranged to suit.

This is a temporary set-up, but looks reasonably usable. It is a little untidy, as there are no storage cabinets for unused equipment. Also the standard height office ceiling is a little low for such a large space.

The room is almost square, as is usual for TEAL style rooms. For the pitch exercise, the clients are spaced around the walls, each standing in front of the sign-up sheet for their project. One instructor is going around the room with a wireless microphone, so each client can pitch. Another instructor is at the lectern controlling the timer. Several other instructors are roving the room, dealing with problems and queries. The room is not silent: there is a low murmur of conversation (the floor is carpeted but the ceiling could perhaps do with more sound absorption). The sound system is working well, but as with any flat floor large room it is not easy to see the presenter and perhaps there should be a wireless video relaying the image to the screens around the room.