Erasmus+ exchange in H f G Gmünd

Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd (HfG) is a university of applied sciences with studies similiar to our own Product design. Through the Erasmus+ programme, I stayed there for four days to learn more about the physical and digital infrastructure they have, and what they whish they had, in their newly renovated campus.

Highlights

  • HfG works extensively with rapid prototyping in a variety of materials.
  • They get high value out of collaboration between different subjects.
  • The physical infrastructure is mainly white boxes. They work with “makerspace”, “hackerspace”, Internet of Things, and other contemporary subjects within spaces that have little bespoke digital infrastucture.
  • HfG incourages close collaboration between subjects. At the same time, the machinery for product design and for testing of manufactured products or materials, are — in their eyes – very different.

Bakground

HfG is located in an old, recently refurbished building. (Well, most of HfG is here.)

The background for the stay was rather practical: In facility management (a department at Oslo and Akershus university college) we collaborate with Facility Management (the bachelor and master degree programmes), and European Project Semester at TKD. When the need now arises  to imagine a future campus at Lillestrøm, we asked professors for input as to where we may catch a glimpse of the future.

There is already a research collaboration project between Oslo and Akershus university college (HiOA), Hfg, and Politecnico di Milano. Through this, there is allready dissemination of knowledge about workspaces (for both sudents and staff). As HfG is very different from the kind of institutions that facility management services collaborate with through other networks — like Rum för Lärande — and more similar to our Product design which may move from Kjeller to Lillestrøm, it appeared to be a good fit.

Main outcomes

HfG works extencively with rapid prototyping in a variety of materials.

Very much as Product design does, as some engineering courses, Vocational teacher ed., and a “health tech”-project may do, HfG do a lot of rapid prototyping. Ease of creating mock-ups, concepts, and prototypes was important for all subjects at HfG. Accessibility to materials, tools and general area appeared to be more important than specific tools and machinery. (At least based on the student projects I listened to.)

Staff and students dislike the light & HVAC controller…

… so one student project is to make a new one.

HfG get high value out of collaboration between different subjects.

Just like so many other places, there is a tendency to stay within your own box subject. But there were several examples of collaboration here. And these were evidently of high value. The possibilities of such collaboration was quite visible where different subjects shared space, and because professors knew each other’s subjects.

The physical infrastructure is mainly white boxes.

As to be expected from a design university,
the  H           f   G       logo has its own logic.

Rather advanced subjects/projects happened in unremarkable spaces. Easy to use tools and materials, good access to lecturers (and their know-how) appeared to be more of a success factor than specialised technology or bespoke workshops — with the rather obvious exceptions for clay-, metal-, and wood-workshops.

The machinery for product design and for testing of manufactured products or materials, are very different.

A particular challenge for HiOAs Faculty of Technology, Art and Design (TKD), is shared use of workshops. HfG mainly has subjects that emphasise the invention and innovative use of products. Many TKD-subjects focus much more on the testing of existing products. The tools needed for Design (new prototype) versus Test (final product) are quite different.

The human touch

There are several links between HfG and HiOA. Mainly they have been between faculty staff. With this visit, we found common challenges on a different level — the support and facilitation of teaching, learning, research and development. Previously I have been on several short visits to universities in south Scandinavia, as well as Delft Technical University (NL). The length of an Erasmus+ stay allowed for a much better understanding of the institution, and a feeling of bonding that day-long trips can’t provide.

I would very much like to thank those who made this stay not just possible, but a wonderfull experience:
(In order of appearance — all puns intended)
  • Ms. Claire Garnier — coordinator par excellence
  • Mr. Volkmar Meyer-Schönbohm — builder of the next golem
  • Mr. Andreas Belthle — master of the Learning Lab
  • Prof. Ulrich Schendzielorz — enlightened scholar
  • Ms. Bianca Koch — geek-to-be
  • Prof. David Oswald — guide of inventors
  • Mr. Benjamin Thomsen — space-hacker
  • Prof. Jürgen Hoofmann — an oriented mind
  • Mr. Thomas Schlüter — furnished for the future

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