Imperial celebrated the transformative impact of community innovation at The Invention Rooms as it launched its latest facilities at White City.
The Invention Rooms, which first opened its doors in November 2017, is a unique space which brings the local community together with Imperial’s innovative staff and students to share in the wonder of science and making.
We have a local neighbourhood full of vibrant and creative people, and it’s so exciting to be working in partnership with them. Professor Alice Gast President of Imperial
It offers local people the opportunity to access workshops, cutting edge design studios and interactive spaces to help them test out creative ideas, build real prototypes, and learn more about Imperial’s work.
This week, the College formally opened the Interaction Zone, described as the “beating heart” of The Invention Rooms. It is a welcoming space where the local community can take part in free hands-on activities, classes, tours, or relax over a cup of coffee alongside Imperial’s staff and students.
The flexible facilities include a community garden and outside terrace, a brand new café, and space for vibrant exhibitions, displays and events.
Speaking at the event, Professor Maggie Dallman, Vice President (International) and Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) said: “The Interaction Zone is an open and welcoming front door to Imperial, giving our friends, community and neighbours a taste of what life at Imperial is like.”
Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London added: “We have a local neighbourhood full of vibrant and creative people, and it’s so exciting to be working in partnership with them. We’re finding out that they’re teaching us a tremendous amount. This is not only making a huge difference in the community, but it’s making Imperial a better place as well.”
On Monday 1 April, Imperial convened staff, students, local residents, local partners and supporters of the College to celebrate this latest milestone and reflect on the impact The Invention Rooms has had since it opened.
The next generation
Florrie Mantio, a 15 year old pupil from Sacred Heart High School, was a participant on the Maker Challenge, a programme run through the Dangoor Reach Out Makerspace in The Invention Rooms which helps young people from the local community create their own prototype products and gadgets.
Florrie developed a ‘fidget spinner’ that would also function as a portable phone charger, using laser cutters in the makerspace. She came up with the idea after noticing that her friend would often fiddle on their phone when bored and run their battery down. Her invention would keep the user occupied as their phone charges, she said.
Florrie added: “The Maker Challenge taught me so much. For the first time in my life I’ve worked well under pressure, and developed public speaking skills and the ability to better connect with others.”
Based within The Invention Rooms, the Dangoor Reach Out Makerspace provides local young people with free hands-on experience of designing and prototyping. The space includes cutting-edge equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and wood and metalworking machinery, with a range programmes designed to help young people embrace making.
Hacking the future
The Invention Rooms is also the base for Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH), a 2,500 strong network of entrepreneurs and inventors from across Imperial.
The ICAH workshop at The Invention Rooms, situated next door to the Reach Out Makerspace, provides Imperial staff and students innovators with access to specialist prototyping and manufacturing equipment as well as a fully equipped bio-lab, which enables synthetic biology and molecular fabrication.
Nate Macabuag, a former mechanical engineering student who graduated from Imperial last year, told the audience how ICAH had helped him turn a student project into a fully fledged business.
Nate is the co-founder of Mitt Wearables Ltd, a startup developing comfortable, affordable, upper limb prosthetic devices. Their prosthetics have a flexible socket that automatically adapts to the user’s size, along with a selection of quickly interchangeable, highly functional prosthetic tools.
Nate said: “The Hackspace was amazing for us. It gave us the opportunity to let our ideas run wild, to get out of the lab and try new things. That is incredibly powerful to a young student. “
Agents of change
Local resident Farrial Missi was a participant on Agents of Change, a unique women’s leadership programme which aims to help local women to feel confident in taking leadership roles in all areas of their life.
Agents of Change was designed to address specific barriers that prevent local women from achieving their full potential, equipping them to strengthen and empower both themselves and their local communities.
Farial works with charity West London Zone, helping local schools, families and charities to work together to further support children and young people.
She said: “Agents for Change really aligned with my passion to work collectively to make a difference.”
“We’re building a unique network of women who are connected and empowered in one area. No matter what our background, we all had common challenges to overcome”
During the event, Professor Alice Gast thanked the following donors for their generous support of Imperial's vision for outreach and community innovation at White City.
- The Mohn Westlake Foundation
- The family of Sir Naim and Renée Dangoor Humphrey W Battcock
- Berkeley Foundation
- Elsevier Foundation
- Garfield Weston Foundation
- J.P. Morgan
- YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP
- Driss Ben-Brahim and Heli Amin
- The Lujenna Educational Trust
- The Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © Imperial College London.
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