The first step towards learning environments of the future

Since the middle of March, the construction of Tracks learning environment is in full swing on Campus Johanneberg. The premises will be created not only to host the Tracks courses, it will become a modern maker-space – a creative meeting place for everyone at Chalmers.


​Visualization of the inside of the new premises. Picture: Arkitekt & Visualisering: CaseStudio AB.

T
he area that currently is being developed is located in SBIII, in Betonghallen and its surrounding areas. 2,000 square meters are under construction and the project includes the renovation of existing premises on floors 0 and 1. The goal is to develop a concept that will establish Tracks learning environment as an open, attractive, flexible and inspiring meeting place. The inauguration is planned to take place early 2022.

Tracks is Chalmers Foundation’s investment in both learning and learning environments. The elective Tracks courses are interdisciplinary, the idea is that students will meet and collaborate across programme and discipline boundaries and take on challenges together.

“The courses are often carried out with a high degree of interaction with researchers, industry representatives and other parts of the society – this is something that the new learning environment will support”, says Kristina Henricson Briggs, vice leader of Tracks.

Examples of content in Tracks learning environment:

  • Simulation and computer rooms
  • Project and meeting rooms
  • Study places and lounge areas
  • Workshops and labs for shaping, processing, building, and testing of different types of materials and
    components (electronics, metal, wood and fabric)
  • Rapid prototyping with 3D printers, laser engraver and cutter, and hot wire cutter
  • Physiology and sports lab
  • Studio for podcasts, film, sound, and virtual reality
  • Large open spaces for group work, presentations, and exhibitions
“In Sweden, this investment in an innovation and learning environment is unique! In the rest of the world there are a number of similar environments, including MIT that has a concept called NEET, Aalto University with Design factory, DTU has Skylab and Penn State have their Learning Factory”, says Mikael Enelund, leader of Tracks.

Place for exciting meetings and new ideas

“SBIII is already today used for many different types of tests and full-scale prototypes. Tracks' future operations create the conditions for further developing Betonghallen as an accessible testing and prototyping facility for everyone at Chalmers”, says Mikael Enelund.

Track's learning environment also contributes to the idea of a more open and interconnected campus, where, among other things, a walkway at ground level through SB I, II & III is created. On each side of the walkway, Tracks' various activities will be visible and easily accessible. The space is large enough to include both large and flexible rooms for full-scale tests and also smaller creative areas where students can meet and study. This is something that many students have requested.

Tove Jensen, a mechanical engineering student who is currently studying for her master's degree in Industrial Ecology, has been involved in the planning for the new learning environment and has interviewed students prior to construction.
“Many are looking forward to the modern classrooms and workshops, but several students also point out that they lack informal spaces: social meeting places, kitchens, sofas, space for coffee and coffee machine and so on. The social aspect is included in the planning of the premises and it is needed to support the interdisciplinary collaboration that Tracks wants to expand at Chalmers”, she says.​

Open to everyone

The learning environment is primarily intended for the Tracks students but will be open to everyone at Chalmers if space allows. To be able to use certain workshops, machines, and labs, it will be required to pass a safety course and courses for certain machines. The plan is to create a student association that keep the environment open and accessible during evenings and weekends, similar to the already existing solution in the prototype lab of the mechanical engineering.

“The difference between Tracks labs and workshops compared to those that are connected to certain programmes today, is that Tracks will gather all disciplines, workshops, labs and other learning facilities  at one place and that it will be available to all students at Chalmers. All students can use them on the same terms and can learn from each other”, says Tove Jensen.

“ Today it is easier for students to just study in their programme-connected buildings and environments, for example, it is common practice for an architect student to be in the workshop together with other architect students, but in Tracks it will be students from many disciplines  with different competencies working together. Students will share knowledge and learn from each other!”

Inspiration and networking

The environment is also open to everyone that wants to work with their own projects. The idea is that it should be a place where you realize, test and evaluate your new ideas, it will be a natural part of Chalmers' entrepreneurial identity. The premises will also be used for Chalmers-related events such as student academies, hackathons and marketing events for primary and secondary schools, industry, and other public actors.

“I hope all Chalmers students will take the chance to use the new learning environment and that they dare to try new things. I think everyone can get something out of being there, such as inspiration, new ideas for engineering solutions and innovations and new networks”, says Tove Jensen.

Facts

  •  In connection to the construction of Tracks learning environment there are also four new classrooms being built. These classrooms will replace ML1-ML4 in “the Mechanical Engineering Building”
  • Through the initiative Tracks, Chalmers will more easily be able to respond to complex problems in society and work life with contributions to practical and concrete solutions. The aim is that Tracks will lead to increased cooperation with the industry on current challenges
  • Tracks also contribute to lifelong learning, as the courses are also open to Chalmers alumni
  • Tracks is financed by the Chalmers Foundation. It is a ten-year long investment and one of the largest initiatives within education at Chalmers during the university's 190-year history
  • The Chalmers employees and students who are directly affected by the construction receive continuous information from Akademiska hus. If you want to sign up to their mailing list, please contact martin.dahlberg@akademiskahus.se​


Text: Julia Jansson

Page manager Published: Thu 03 Jun 2021.