Education and Public Engagement
As a publicly funded research centre, I-Form recognises the importance of engaging with the public about our research and the motivations behind it. Public engagement also offers an opportunity for researchers to improve their communication skills and to ensure they remain connected to the bigger societal picture.
We believe it is vital to share the outcomes of our research, to explore the societal implications of advanced manufacturing, to listen to public input on Industry 4.0 issues, and to respond to societal needs and concerns through our research.
The ethos of public engagement for I-Form is driven by a move away from the traditional ‘deficit models’ of public engagement and towards more ‘dialogic’ and ‘participatory’ models, with the ultimate goal of facilitating engaged research. (Engaged research is carried out in collaborative engagement with the community and is advanced with community partners.)
I-Form has developed three long-term goals for its public engagement activities; these tie in with the centre’s vision and mission, and all our education and public engagement activities aim to align with one or more of these goals:
- Help address the skills shortage in advanced manufacturing
- Increase the diversity of the advanced manufacturing community
- Grow awareness of Industry 4.0
I-Form’s education and public engagement remit is delivered through two main ‘pillars’:
- Advanced manufacturing in education
- Diversity & community
Our programmes include second-level teacher training in 3D printing, Transition Year student innovation challenges, primary school workshops, women in 3D printing meetups, youth group activities, and activities at festivals and other events.
I-Form will also develop a range of academic courses targeted at both undergraduate and graduate students. Online training programmes will target those currently working in manufacturing. These courses will address materials processing, additive manufacturing and data-driven digital manufacturing, with shared modules enabling multi-site education.