During the opening evening on June 1, Rodríguez presented A Polytechnic in a Post-Pandemic World, in which she facilitated a panel discussion around three key questions posed to educators:
- What aspects of higher education should not return to normal?
- What accommodations made during the pandemic should become the new normal?
- What reflections are there on the choice model for stakeholders: faculty, staff and students?
Rodríguez’s presentation was met with enthusiasm and sparked a daily activity for attendees to ask more questions or share answers and ideas.
“As polytechnics, COVID-19 proved both a challenge and opportunity to evolve and prioritize applied learning in new ways,” Rodríguez said. “The virtual summit highlighted our journeys and sparked renewed energy in a dynamic future ahead, with partnerships at the forefront.”
Maria Alm, interim dean of the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences, and Tiffani Taggart, outreach program manager for the Discovery Center, followed Rodríguez in a panel discussion with other attendees from partnering universities on the GPEA’s history and aims.
On June 2, Astwood introduced attendees to the Made at UW-Stout initiative during her presentation Fully Emerged in the Process. Astwood and industrial design 2020 graduate Alexandre Marble described how they created 200 cups for the 2019 Polytechnic Summit and 250 cups for the WiSys symposium, both held at UW-Stout.
Astwood and five industrial design students, including Marble, created the cups using a slip cast process and used 15 forms to create different styles. The cups carried the Made at UW-Stout logo and were in a package created by the packaging department with designs by graphics students.
“For the Made at UW-Stout initiative, I wanted the audience to see what we created as a polytechnic university,” Astwood said.
Virtual Sustainability Summer School
TU Dublin also offered a two-week Virtual Sustainability Summer School from May 24 to June 4. Five sustainability courses were led by instructors from partnering GPEA institutions.
Astwood led a collaborative course on Consumer Living on the Go. Six students from UW-Stout participated, as well as students from Purdue Polytechnic, TU Dublin, Coventry University and Bahrain Polytechnic. Students in different majors were placed in groups of five to seven for cross-disciplinary collaboration.
“Students researched, ideated and developed an alternative design for single use plastic take-out packaging utilizing the circular design principles,” Astwood explained. “This was supposed to take place in person in 2020, but the pandemic happened.”
The class met virtually every morning. Topics ranged from sustainable development goals to circular economic principles to research and the design process. Then, groups met with mentors, including Astwood, to discuss their sustainable packaging designs. They presented their projects at the summit.