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.”
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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.