EZONE delivers industry-student engagement

30/11/2020 | 3 mins

After a decade in the making, the brand new $80 million EZONE UWA Student Hub has opened to engineering and mathematical sciences students.

The University greatly acknowledges the generous support and funding made possible through our foundation industry partners, BHP and Woodside, the generous bequest from alumnus Robert Telford, Eastwood Family Foundation, Harold and Margaret Clough and Giumelli Family Foundation as well as many other donors and alumni. The development of EZONE was led by Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences Executive Dean Professor John Dell.

Described as a massive intellectual and financial investment in WA’s knowledge economy, the student hub is expected to deliver a vibrant student experience and enhanced graduate outcomes.

The facility incorporates three world-class engineering laboratories, 14 flexible learning studios and dedicated space for 150 research students.

Students meeting in EZONE lab
Students meeting in an EZONE lab

Visitors are able to view the materials testing lab (lucky observers might see a robot making 3D prints of concrete), the hydraulics lab (featuring a model of water flow through the Swan River) and other laboratories – all contributing to the demystification of engineering and mathematics.

In its first semester of operation, the student hub has been a hive of activity. Nearly 30 student events were held every week, encompassing student wellbeing and social events, as well as industry engagement and professional development opportunities. Figures from Semester 2 show more than 7,000 bookings of group spaces, with 1,200 unique users each day and 40,000 users each month.

“I really enjoy coming to EZONE to study, to take a break with friends, or simply to have a discussion in a nice open space.”

Danna Torres Bennz (Computer Science and Management student)

Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching for the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Associate Professor Dianne Hesterman, said the facility had been embraced by staff and students.

“This year EZONE came into its own with the move to online learning,” she said.

“The video conferencing facilities have allowed students unable to join us on campus to still participate in classes and continue their studies.

“EZONE is sometimes called a student hub or teaching facility, but I think a better description is a collaborative space. It enables our students, teaching and research staff, and industry members to come together and collaborate on the big challenges that we face and to work on socially responsible, sustainable solutions.”

UWA Chair in Engineering Education, Associate Professor Sally Male, said the student hub had surpassed her expectations.

“Before construction, students worked with engineers on design projects related to EZONE,” she said. “During construction, students worked as student engineers, and also shadowed the UWA Project Manager.

“Now students continue to learn from EZONE, visiting the construction site in a 4D learning environment to examine contextual factors and sustainable features.”

While the building includes various sustainability features – such as solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage – one of its most impressive elements is the inclusion of 2,000 sensors monitoring electricity, light, heating, cooling and other building aspects. The result is a ‘digital twin’.

Next year, students will be able to manipulate the digital twin, creating new operating models to increase efficiencies. The changes, after being submitted to a panel of academics, will be implemented in real time.

The EZONE UWA Student Hub received a 2020 Australian Engineering Excellence Award.

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