“It’s our cathedral to impact and innovation and it is from here that we will change the health of a nation.”
Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director, Charles Perkins Centre
The Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) Research and Learning Hub is an iconic feature of the University of Sydney and the heart of an Australia-wide research network that aims to ease the burden of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease through innovative research and teaching.
The $385 million facility was constructed in 2013 and aims to bring researchers, students, academics and professionals from a range of disciplines together to drive ground breaking research in this field.
The X-Lab wet teaching laboratory is a unique feature of the CPC Hub. ‘Wet’ refers to the hands-on, experimental work involving chemicals, reagents, fluids and biological material that occurs within the lab. The ‘X’ represents the cross-disciplinary teaching paradigm supported by this space.
The design goal for the X-Lab was to construct a teaching laboratory which maximised space by enabling multiple classes to operate in the same area without disrupting individual learning and teaching experiences. This has resulted in the creation of an innovative teaching space where up to eight classes can be taught simultaneously. Each student works on their own computer, which is capable of receiving multiple high-definition video streams and focused directional audio. There are no keyboards; everything is operated by touch.
Microbiology students are able to sit at one bench while Veterinary Science or Medicine students sit at the next. This is in keeping with the cross-disciplinary nature of the Charles Perkins Centre, which aims to integrate research and solutions from a range of different fields to achieve its goal of creating healthier, more sustainable communities.
This presentation will explore some of the challenges involved in creating this pioneering teaching space, for example convincing non-technical academics that this space could become a successful part of their curriculum, as well as looking at some of the lessons learned in the first year of classes held in the X-Lab.
Jim Cook and Warren French
University of Sydney