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New centre for innovative collaborations opens at UTSC

 

Right now, maybe while eating a piece of pizza or waiting for a class to start, a UTSC student might be turning over a world-changing idea in her mind. If so, The Hub is there to help.

The Hub Ideation + Experiential Learning Centre is a space on campus where students and faculty can come together to develop new and creative ideas – anything from innovative social media sites to killer mobile apps to unthought-of businesses, technologies and social innovations.

“A lot of people have ideas. They think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if …’ At The Hub they’ll learn how to make that idea more likely to become a reality,” says Gray Graffam, a lecturer in media studies and director of The Hub.

At The Hub, computer science students will rub shoulders with graphic designers, and management students will swap insights with English majors. The result will be teams of students who learn from doing while they create innovative new technologies and commercial ventures.

The space itself is adjacent to the Instructional Centre atrium. It’s utilitarian, with computers, tables and chairs in modular units that can easily be reorganized for work groups. More important than the furniture will be the opportunity for collaboration among students and faculty.

One program offered through The Hub will be the Appstar Mobile App Development Contest. In October, UTSC students Waqas Nawaz, Mohammad Azmi and Neil Mendonca won the first contest with What2Eat@UTSC, which guides users through food choices available on campus.

Another program will be IDEA (Innovative Design, Entrepreneurial Action), intended for students who have a good idea they want to explore. Those selected will be led through a formal process by Graffam, who has 20 years of professional experience in design process and in the production of Internet-based media and technology.

“Lots of the steps are the same, whether you want to design a coffee cup or a telescope. You have to understand what you’re trying to do. You have to understand what the limitations are. You have to look at what the competition is doing. You have to think about the need, and you have to present an articulate and well-focused idea,” Graffam says.

Graffam also expects faculty to use The Hub to develop their own ideas with the help of students. They might want to develop technology that can be used by International Development Studies students on their overseas placements, for instance. Or they might have an idea for tools that will make scholarly collaboration easier.

Principal Franco Vaccarino says that The Hub will help UTSC fulfill its role of encouraging impactful innovation.

“University students want to have an impact beyond the classroom. They want to create value, they want to make a difference, and they want to lead social change. University campuses have always had the power and potential to inspire, and to become incubators for new and fresh thinking. With the opening of The Hub Ideation + Experiential Learning Centre at UTSC, we are helping to provide our students with the tools and resources they need to contribute and to bring their forward-looking ideas to life,” he says.

“It’s a good spot to have on campus,” agrees John Bastawrous, SCSU vice-president, campus life. “A lot of students have some pretty cool ideas. But we never see them going anywhere. This is a one-stop-shop for those ideas to be developed and to become a lot bigger.”

Upcoming events:

The Hub will officially open Friday, March 1, from 2:30 to 4pm in the IC.  Vaccarino, Dean & Vice Principal Rick Halpern, and Vice-Principal, Research Malcolm Campbell will speak. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome.

Jesse Rodgers, Director of U of T’s Rotman School of Management’s Creative Destruction Zone will speak at The Hub on March 21 at 3:30 pm.

Visit The Hub website at: www.utsc.utoronto.ca/thehub




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