Technology and furniture combine for a collaborative Engineering Laboratory at Queen Mary University of London
QMUL – Innovative combination of Furniture and AV to create a state of the art Flexible Teaching Facility
The Engineering Laboratory at Queen Mary University of London
Reflex was engaged as the designated integrator on a project that deployed a comprehensive audio visual and bespoke furniture solution to create engaging collaborative spaces. Senior Technical Design Engineer Raj Dattani and the technical team worked closely with both Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) on the proposed solution and with Dalen on the conceptual desk design element of the project.
The engineering laboratory at QMUL has traditionally been an open plan area with research rooms, where students get ‘hands on’ with hand tools, glue guns and various mechanicals to perform module-based workshop projects. An additional ground floor teaching area, G27, opened out onto corridors which created some practical issues in their use.
The space was equipped with every day tables and chairs, with projects scheduled to run common tests for the whole class. QMUL felt the whole area imposed constraints on students, teaching associates and lecturers, and decided to investigate how the space could be better used.
Essentially the G27 teaching space on the ground floor is an analytical lab, but the University was looking for it to become multi-functional, and to meet the needs of different disciplines within the faculty. Flexibility was needed to accommodate various setups such as mechanical jigs, fluid beds or micro steam engines, and exercises where variable data is input to test beds and frames and made available for group collaboration.
The vision for G27 was to maximise the use of furniture and technology to deliver a state of the art laboratory experience that was focused on collaboration, communications, connectivity and real-time data collection for individuals, group and class active learning.
The solution Reflex designed and implemented was a bespoke dual masted eight person meeting system. It includes four displays, concealed keyboards, control, power and personal audio listening system, all integrated into one neat solution.
A dedicated column on each desk is equipped with a Crestron 5” touch panel for local desk control/setup. An extra LAN connector accommodates a network camera streaming port and beneath each desktop, the necessary hardware to allow each desk’s AV equipment to independently communicate with the master is concealed in two dedicated 10RU racks.
The design allows any PC or HDMI auxiliary input to be displayed on any monitor, in any given combination. The desk configuration and setup can be controlled from the local touch panel, or from a wireless touch panel at the front of room.
A keyboard and mouse for each PC is held in an underside cradle, with a cable-way to the working surface. With four keyboard cradles in total, another two additional PCs can be added as needed. All integrated system cables are concealed within the desk to keep them hidden from view.
For the lecturer, a lectern is equipped with a desktop monitor mounted on an ergo arm. The lectern surface includes a Crestron TST 600 wireless control panel with an integrated input plate angled in a housing as well as a microphone charging docking station. From the lectern, the lecturer can use the wireless touch panel to select a source to be displayed on the desktop monitor, and can stream this content to the collaborative desktops or the data projector.
This means the lecturer can communicate to each individual booth and send different tasks to each, communicating via a PA system, straight to the user’s touch screen display or mobile device. Tasks set by the lecturer and feedback from students can be streamed anywhere in the campus or, indeed, anywhere in the world.
The PA system allows users to wear in-ear headphones and receiver packs to listen to the audio from their local source and the lecturer’s voice audio. A 22” monitor shared between two users, gives the ability to view their local computer or auxiliary input source device. Four wall mounted Audac AXIR column loudspeakers can be used to address the entire group of students.
The whole space that was previously open to corridors now has glass dividers. With hanging sound baffles to minimise noise pollution and reverberation, they help creates a quiet room with a better ambiance for collaborative work.
The Engineering Laboratory has become a showcase room for QMUL and has delivered benefits beyond the initial expectations, as well as influencing other facilities in the University. The multi-use space now lends itself to a variety of uses and is being used by external resources.