D:Lab's Makers Series fosters knowledge sharing and hands-on learning within community

In a lab session at the McNulty Design Lab this past week, Nicholas Tali, Lab Coordinator at Ashesi’s Engineering school, led a session on building solar powered home kits. Unlike his regular classes, this session is slightly different. Sitting in groups, asking questions and eager to start building are a mix of staff, faculty and students from across different majors. For most of them, it will be the first time they will work with wires, cables and electronics. The week before, third year student Benedict Quartey ‘18, led a similar session, this time on building 3D printers. Showcasing a 3D printer he had put together himself, the participants gained insight into that space. The two lectures form inaugural sessions for the Makers Series, an Ashesi Design Lab’s (D:lab) effort to expand knowledge sharing on campus.

For an hour each week, a member of the community is given the opportunity to share expertise or knowledge in a particular field or area of interest to other members of the community. The sessions are hands on by design, meaning participants not only learn from a lecture, but they also get the opportunity to create prototypes or immediately try their hands out on newly learned concepts.

“We teach our students that creativity comes from novelty; when you’re exposed to something that you’re not used to,” says Dr. Gordon Admodza, head of the Ashesi D:Lab. “It makes you ask the question, what if something I know could be used in different way? Bringing different people together, and exposing them to new things this way, is a fantastic way to learn and come up with creative ideas.” 

While the Makers Series sessions usually attract technology enthusiasts, it is steadily building a more diverse following.

Started in 2015, Ashesi’ D:Lab is focused on building a community around design thinking and creative problem solving within Ashesi. The Makers Series, beyond giving people the chance to share knowledge, will help others understand how things work and learn how to create those things.

“The D-Lab is focused on helping students develop not only design strategy skills, but also making skills,” said Dr. Adomdza. “We don’t want them to be just creative strategists; we want them to develop very simple skills that will help them build all kinds of prototypes, from low to high fidelity. To be able to do that, we need to have a series that cumulatively teaches these skills through different making tools and making opportunities.”