Abstract

The "third mission" of academia, i.e. public engagement, has become more and more explicit. Nowadays universities have to engage with societal needs and market demands by linking the university's activity with its own socio-economic and cultural context. In this perspective, this paper will deal with the educational activities of academia through the activities of a material library: the spread of recent and continuous innovations of materials for design. In the landscape of academic material libraries, the case study of MATto appears as of particular interest – especially concerning the topic of the continuous updating proposed to its contacts –, therefore it will be investigated and explored. A new strategy, whose main objectives are generating widespread learning based on a continuous dialogue, nurturing a "polytechnic" knowledge on materials through on-going updating and involving the wide public into informative processes by generating curiosity and interest on the research on materials for production, was designed ad hoc. The most interesting and effective tools in relation to the attended results were selected and the working methods are based on a series of informal live-meetings and a new media presence growth action plan. After one year, the results of this new approach to public engagement are still embryonic but yet promising. This work can be an example for other institutions facing issues such as contemporary methods to teach or, at least, to spread materials and design culture.

Keywords:

innovative materials and design, design education, consultancy services, materials library, public engagement

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Nurturing competence on innovative materials through new media. The case study of public engagement of MATto, the material library of Politecnico di Torino

The "third mission" of academia, i.e. public engagement, has become more and more explicit. Nowadays universities have to engage with societal needs and market demands by linking the university's activity with its own socio-economic and cultural context. In this perspective, this paper will deal with the educational activities of academia through the activities of a material library: the spread of recent and continuous innovations of materials for design. In the landscape of academic material libraries, the case study of MATto appears as of particular interest – especially concerning the topic of the continuous updating proposed to its contacts –, therefore it will be investigated and explored. A new strategy, whose main objectives are generating widespread learning based on a continuous dialogue, nurturing a "polytechnic" knowledge on materials through on-going updating and involving the wide public into informative processes by generating curiosity and interest on the research on materials for production, was designed ad hoc. The most interesting and effective tools in relation to the attended results were selected and the working methods are based on a series of informal live-meetings and a new media presence growth action plan. After one year, the results of this new approach to public engagement are still embryonic but yet promising. This work can be an example for other institutions facing issues such as contemporary methods to teach or, at least, to spread materials and design culture.

 

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