The Michael Crouch Innovation Centre (MCIC) has opened to students, hosting a design competition, networking events, and a sold out talk by a leading international angel investor and media entrepreneur.
Unique within an Australian university and open to students from all faculties, the MCIC will provide co-curricular learning programs facilitated by UNSW experts and a network of corporate partners.
It will also be a space where students with innovative ideas can find cross-discipline collaborators, and access resources and support to develop their ideas as quickly as possible.
“We’re a new kind of student experience,” says Brad Furber, the Centre’s chief operating officer. “We provide a platform for faculty and industry partners to engage with students, and a pathway to complementary support services.”
On Thursday, the Centre will host another free event featuring “accidental social entrepreneur” and Order of Australia Medallist Clary Castrission, the founder of 40K – an enterprise working to improve living conditions and education outcomes in rural India.
While highly desirable, Furber says the goal isn’t just to produce entrepreneurs. He hopes the Centre will become a launching pad for “accidental innovators” – students with great ideas who want to challenge the status quo in all walks of life.
The MCIC features a maker workshop with 3D printers, laser cutters and other machining tools, where student teams can design and build prototypes. On Friday, it will be front-and-centre for a furniture design competition and student-mixing event.
“The University is getting on board with the idea that it’s good to have students able to access resources and facilities, to experiment, to design, and to conduct their own research and development,” says mechanical engineering student Nathan Adler, the co-founder of the popular student maker club, Create.
The Centre, which is housed in the new Materials Science building, was established with support from Australian businessman Michael Crouch, the executive chairman of Midgeon Holdings. It will officially open on 17 September 2015.