Register for CityLab this Year

CityLab will be running again both terms this year. We allow ten students per term, per university, so now is your chance to sign up before it’s full.

Go register at University of Aberdeen (PD3002 or PD3502), or Robert Gordon University (BS2315 Business Project 1, or BS2316 Business Project 2, os as ‘Extra-Curricular Activity’ under the ‘Study Skills and Access’ part of MyMoodle/MyCourses/(General Study Area) and – speak to Jon Penally about options) to take part this term, or in the later term to start in January. The classes meet from 14:00 – 17:00 each Wednesday.

This is your chance to help make Aberdeen a better city. All project ideas are generated by the students and guided by staff through their development with the intention that each project idea could be sustainably be carried forward by someone from Aberdeen City Council, or by an interested city partner. Go read the update to see what’s happened so far after three rounds of the class.


Student CityLab Projects Update

We have had three cohorts of students and each cohort has enabled something new to develop in Aberdeen. As a student you can make lasting change in the city. You can start the ball rolling in one term.

The first cohort enabled a waste food reduction project to generate an income for participants. ‘Fit Dish‘ has become ‘Tuk In‘ at CFine as is set to be launched in the near future to help reduce food poverty in Aberdeen, while also helping in the training of people in the food industry.

The second explored how the city might use high-tech park benches to enable better social support. The ‘Living Spaces‘ team will see their idea of park benches with mobile recharging points and wifi hotpots deployed in four sites across Aberdeen soon.

The third project will provide more energy and information from pedestrians. The ‘Next Step Energy‘ team proposed energy generating pressure pads being placed in the city centre to provide energy, data about foot traffic, and displays of varying sorts for the community. The city has decided to fund this so that a trial can be run near Market Street and Union Street in the coming year.

We wonder what will the next cohorts in 2017-2018 offer the city. Come be part of the teams that decide on the topics, and put together the pitches. Maybe your idea will become reality.


Cohort 3 Finals

The teams from Cohort 3 presented in the Tempo café at the end of March to an audience of potential stakeholders from an array of private, public and third sector organisations. Below are summaries of the 4 ideas presented by the groups, as well as a quote from a member of each team about their experience of the CityLabs programme as a whole.

Team Advent looked at changing the way both locals and tourists access information about what’s going on in the city. They designed an event information hub, with interactive screens to allow people to scroll through content and explore the city through an interactive map, for example. The content displayed would change to cater for people and events depending on the time of day. The idea came about because many the group are current international students, and found it difficult to know exactly what is going on in Aberdeen.

A spokesperson for the group on what they thought of the City Lab experience: “CityLab wasn’t what I expected. It was a lot more realistic, we were doing work that will hopefully see real-life progress. We had to go out and speak to stakeholders, and in that respect, it was a lot more grounded than the usual university work. It didn’t feel like an academic subject, which was great.”

Tales from the Silver City
Next came Tales from the Silver City. This group focussed on the theme of restoring cultural pride, and their idea involved a platform for people from Aberdeen to share their stories. An online platform would capture stories from the everyday lives of people in the city, and share them with others in the area as well as beyond. This would also involve an annual book, documenting a snapshot of Aberdeen during that year. Plans for a mobile app which broadcast stories based on location were also included in their presentation.

What a team member said about the programme: “CityLab was surprising and rewarding. As expected, it was nice to blend disciplines, to get those different perspectives. For me as a graphic design student, this was a very unique opportunity to get my skills out there and involved in something different. CityLab develops team working skills that I wouldn’t have been able to develop elsewhere, due to the diversity of our group. Oh and the constant supply of biscuits during the workshops was well received by all!”

Next Step Energy
Next Step Energy went through the process with a couple of different ideas. Initially they were discussing rooftop community gardens throughout the city centre. However, what they ended up focussing on was the use of pads under the ground to generate electric power via footfall. With these pads that already exist and are used down in London, it was proposed that streetlights could be powered purely by people walking through town. The pads could also be used to provide data on footfall.

What they said about CityLab: “CityLab was definitely a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. It pushes you outside your box, your brain space, your current way of thinking. I had never done anything cross-disciplines at university, and I thought that would have been problematic but it worked a lot smoother than predicted. I would say that for next time the groups should be formed based on having multiple disciplines. We needed all the time, all the 10 weeks we were given. I would recommend CityLabs, but as a warning to those who may think it’s a kop out from other modules – it’s not. For people who have a passion to see change in the city, it’s a must.”

Event Horizon
Finally, the team that won on the day of the final: Event Horizon. Their idea centred around a double-decker bus that would deliver STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) educational workshops and activities to school children across the city and shire. This would travel around the Aberdeenshire area, particularly to areas of deprivation, to provide an interactive learning experience. The group had already identified and spoken to the Aberdeen Science Centre, as a potential stakeholder who could not only help with the content of lessons provided, but also possibly man the bus with their already existent staff.

What they thought of CityLab: “It was extremely multi-cultural, the diverse range of students taking part was fantastic. This is the most important element of groups like this, because it allows for opinions from an array of cultures to influence the final project we presented. It was a very immersive experience, I felt very involved in everything we were doing and it has provided a number of transferrable practical skills.”

While the projects were unique in the application of technology, there are certainly potential links between them that could be explored. It will be exciting to see which, if not all, of these projects take off…