Projects

More than 30 teams made it to the showcase stage of the Campus of the Future competition, held on October 26. From that group, three were chosen to receive a share of $30,000 in award funding set aside for winners.

The following ideas were declared “best of show” in the contest:

First Place: University of Michigan Mobile Learning Labs

The campus of the future must break free of its institutional and geographic barriers to branch out into surrounding communities, create experiential learning options for students, engage individuals with limited access to higher education and provide space for interdisciplinary collaboration to solve local problems. The proposed solution is to create pop-up learning labs. To test this idea, this team proposes to develop a pilot pop-up lab in Ann Arbor with the opportunity to operate at three scales. At the room scale, the lab will take the form of interactive gatherings between town and gown. At the building scale, the lab will function as a live-in learning community. At the campus scale, the lab will serve as an interactive, engaging set of satellite spaces around campus.

Second Place: The Virtual Reality Online Campus

In its mission statement, U-M pledges “to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge.” Developing a Massive Open Online Course enhanced by virtual reality/augmented reality technology will help the university meet this goal and position itself as a leader of emerging trends in education access and availability. VR/AR technology, in the form of hand-held, phone-based headsets, offers unique opportunities for the graphic representation of research findings, making otherwise dry material seem more engaging and relatable. This content can be enhanced through room-scale, in-class enrichment exercises. The proposal will also shape the future of the university on a campus-wide scale, by expanding its reach far beyond the geographic boundaries of the institution.

Third Place: U-M Satellite Campus on Mars

The University of Michigan Bioastronautics and Life Support Systems (BLiSS) project team believes that if human civilization is to succeed in space, then the University of Michigan must be a leader in the endeavor. This project will develop a design for a U-M campus on Mars, as it might appear during the university’s tricentennial in 2117. This design would include but not be limited to the engineering of buildings; suggested scientific research to be conducted on the planet; curriculum considerations; and student life, health and recreation ideas. Input from students, faculty, staff and alumni (especially those employed at leading space agencies and organizations) will be used so that the widest possible worldview can be incorporated into the Mars campus design.

Read the University Record story.

The remaining projects included the following, searchable by alphabetical order or by category.

  • Beyster Bluepath

    About 285 million people are estimated to be visually challenged worldwide. Yet buildings, cities and maps are designed with sighted users in mind, making navigation challenging at best and dangerous at worst. This project is building a mobile application that can provide audio navigation instructions. The application—currently being tested in the Beyster Building on North Campus—would elicit user input via voice commands in natural language, locate the user within a building and then provide turn-by-turn instructions to the destination. This solution currently fits into the room and building scales, but the prototype could be scaled further to cover every U-M building, ensuring campus-wide impact in the near future.

  • Initiative for an Inclusive Campus

    A student group in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is prepared to take on the challenge of studying the relationship between physical space and education through the lens of disability. Preliminary research suggests that the current use of space at U-M–at the room, building and campus levels–contributes to unequal learning opportunities for those who are differently abled. Obvious trouble spots include staircases, narrow doorways and the absence of accessible entryways. But this study will also consider land use, transportation, housing, dining, athletics, Ann Arbor’s infrastructure and how all of these aspects can contribute to creating an equitable education for all. Deliverables will highlight the successful remedies that the university currently employs and also offer suggestions for improvement.

  • Sahbi

    Imagine moving to a foreign country, where you are expected to not only get used to a strange culture, but also learn a strange tongue. To ease that process, this project proposes an app called Sahbi (the Arabic word for “friend”). The application’s goal is language development for English as Second Language students. (Sahbi is currently focused on native Arabic speakers, but can be tailored to other languages such as Spanish and Chinese.) It is free, customizable to each student’s needs and provides additional online resources/suggestions for future activities. Sahbi combines writing, oral communication, vocabulary skill building, and promotes cultural assimilation all in one app. It is also available to students outside the classroom, ensuring access to an expert with a click of a button.