Where might one invent a connected hiking stick for kids who lag behind their parents on the trail, complete with thematic video games and challenges like photographing hedgehogs? The Open Lab at the University of Technology of Belfort-Montbéliard (UTBM). For innovation project manager Olivier Lamotte, the student-produced prototype is "typical of what we can do here."
The Open Lab was designed to bring together researchers, companies, city governments, nonprofits and 2,900 students to develop just such projects. First launched in February 2018, the lab is slated to add a brainstorming facility equipped with an interactive touchscreen table, a co-working space, a living lab for prototype testing and private spaces for short-term projects.
The lab’s main goal? Ride the wave of recent changes in engineering. UTBM director Ghislain Montavon notes, "For a long time, we asked engineers to be optimizers. Today, they have to be more innovation oriented and capable of working with engineers from other fields, " hence the need for multidisciplinary teams. The lab also aligns with UTBM’s annual Innovation Crunch Time event, which sees 1.600 engineering students tackle corporate challenges.
For corporate partners, the Open Lab is a chance to reflect, design prototypes and models quickly and test them for feedback. It’s a way to shrink both the development phase and project costs. For the UTBM community, it’s a dream come true. The idea for the lab came out of a 2017 university forum that sought out new project ideas around 50 themes.
Upon completion, the Open Lab will measure over 1,500 m2 and represent a total of €1.5 million in investments spanning three years. Now the lab features a 3D scanner and 3D printers, cutters and machining tools in addition to accessories for the Internet of Things such as GPS, gyroscopes, WiFI and Bluetooth. Some 40,000 Legos are also available for fast modeling. According to UTBM, an additional €1.5 million will fund the lab’s long-term development, including paid manager positions.
Camille Pons, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le