Peas in a Stu­dent Pod

Group 34 finds ways to ease learn­ing mind


FIND­ING a quiet spot for group study work on cam­pus is more dif­fi­cult than you think.

Si­lence is re­quired in the li­brary, it’s too hot to sit out­side, lec­ture rooms are in use.

With this in mind, Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing lec­turer Fareed Is­mail set a group of BTech me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents a task – cre­ate a con­tained space for stu­dents to use with­out get­ting heat­stroke.

“I sug­gested a study pod as I saw our quad ar­eas were hardly used by stu­dents be­cause there was no cov­er­ing or shad­ing,” said Is­mail.

Group 34, with Jaco Swiege­laar, Ste­fan Gunter, Hanò Kriel and Bartlo Crous, took nine months from in­cep­tion of the idea to com­ple­tion to build a proof of con­cept and present it at the Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing BTech poster and pre­sen­ta­tion day.

The ini­tial stage of the project was to de­ter­mine fea­si­bil­ity.

“This in­cluded ques­tion­naires to stu­dents on how they use their free time at the cam­pus and whether they would like the study pod op­tion to carry out work,” ex­plained Is­mail.

Fol­low­ing pos­i­tive feed­back from stu­dents, the group started brain­storm­ing ideas, chose and de­signed a par­tic­u­lar con­cept, com­mis­sioned the man­u­fac­ture of var­i­ous com­po­nents and fin­ished the pod just in time to show the lec­tur­ers their Stu­dent Pod.

They chose an in­dus­trial look of wood and gal­vanised steel and cre­ated a pod that can seat four peo­ple around a ta­ble on the one side and two peo­ple on the other side of an in­ter­nal di­vid­ing wall. The whole pod sits on cast­ers so it can be moved around.

“The plan is to con­tinue up­grades to the pod next year by pow­er­ing it with re­new­able en­ergy so stu­dents can plug in cellphones and lap­top charg­ers,” said Is­mail.

Fund­ing for this proof of con­cept came from the univer­sity’s Ca­pac­ity De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (pro­gramme 1, ac­tiv­ity 4 is for cre­at­ing learn­ing spa­ces for stu­dents) and Is­mail said if they could source ad­di­tional fund­ing, they would try to de­velop more while up­grad­ing this first de­sign.

“I had my first meet­ing with a group of stu­dents in the pod and it was very com­fort­able. If the univer­sity is se­ri­ous about de­vel­op­ing en­trepreneur­ship, this is an op­por­tu­nity where we can ex­pand the project into a fully de­vel­oped busi­ness. Ob­vi­ously, this would take time and com­mit­ment from var­i­ous part­ners but I feel this is pos­si­ble,” said Is­mail.

Group 34 leader Jaco Swiege­laar said they would wel­come sug­ges­tions on how to im­prove the pod and make it ef­fec­tive for long-term use. “We would like to in­cor­po­rate a sys­tem that re­quires stu­dents to swipe their stu­dent cards if they want to use the pod.”

South African artists will show­case their art­works to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence in Europe via the Trav­el­ling Art Gallery.

Mrs Deaf SA Tracy Dun­can shares the stage with fel­low Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy alumni, Wendy Dirks.

Group 34 with mem­bers Jaco Swiege­laar, Ste­fan Gunter, Hanò Kriel and Bartlo Crous try out the Stu­dent Pod. They took nine months from in­cep­tion of the idea to com­ple­tion and pre­sented it at the Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing BTech poster and pre­sen­ta­tion day.

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