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News Royal launches Smart Zone at Staffordshire University

HRH The Duke of Gloucester praised new facilities enabling students “to solve the problems of tomorrow”

HRH, The Duke of Gloucester visiting the Smart Zone's Virtual Arcade
Image: HRH, The Duke of Gloucester visiting the Smart Zone's Virtual Arcade

Above all, this demonstrates that we are investing in our students who are making the transition from University to industry professionals

Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

HRH The Duke of Gloucester praised new facilities designed to equip students “to solve the problems of tomorrow” during his visit to Staffordshire University.

The Duke officially launched Staffordshire University’s £1.3m Smart Zone which provides students with the tools and technologies to undertake project work in areas including sustainable power, AI and robotics, games and visual effects, self-driving vehicle design and wearable technologies.

The largest collaboration space on the University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus, The Smart Zone opened to students in September and is available to those from a wide variety of degree courses and those undertaking Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in creative and digital technologies.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Jones said: “The Smart Zone actively promotes the importance of project work and working collaboratively with industry partners who are also invited to make use of the space and equipment. Above all, this demonstrates that we are investing in our students who are making the transition from University to industry professionals.”

The Smart Zone spans two floors of the Mellor building and incorporates a ground floor maker-space, known as “the Digital Shed”, with work benches and access to a range of laser cutters, machine and milling tools for use by engineers, product designers and artists. There is also a 3D Factory which, staffed by technical experts, offers advice and instruction on a wide range of 3D printers.

Rooms dedicated to immersive technologies – including Green Screens and a VIVE equipped Virtual Arcade – can also be booked by students who are seeking to emulate the physical world in a computer game or app. Students on a range of specialist computing degrees will also benefit from a dedicated XR development space, helping them take their learning to another level.

Completing The Smart Zone is a large visualisation and simulation room to allow for large scale 3D scanning and indoor drone flight – a facility which is also paving the way for the University’s exciting “connected curriculum” and new subjects including architecture.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the exciting new facilities. He also met Students Union representatives and student competition winners Liam Emery, Charlie Smith and Fallon Jay whose creative designs can be seen throughout The Smart Zone.

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