In a digital world, encouraging the youth to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known collectively as STEM subjects) is vital. Not just to the young people themselves, but to the economies in which they will eventually seek jobs and business opportunities. That’s why numerous nations are executing a big push to improve and broaden the teaching of STEM. But, it can’t just happen in schools.

At Action Impact, we were delighted to be involved in designing such a STEM-centric space, and one which is part of a growing global network sponsored by one of the world’s leading digital brands: Google.

Our task was to design and create the region’s very first Google Innovation Hub within the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) at Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. Promoting STEM and making it accessible to people who might never have thought they could help drive their nation forward in the digital age, was of primary importance in the brief.

The nation’s government partnered with Google to bring to life a unique learning curriculum (developed by the award-winning Edinburgh International Science Festival team, EISF) within a series of great spaces using state-of-the-art technologies. We worked to reflect Google’s brand values, right at the inception of the project, to achieve a moulded and awe-inspiring innovation environment. The primary focus however was on ‘education’, so the spaces had to be stimulating and fun, as well as functional. A rigorous teacher selection and training process was developed to ensure that the educators had a comprehensive understanding of the curriculum and equipment which they would present.

The Action Impact team delved deeply into its creativity to design spaces that artistically matched the multiple curriculums for ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Developing Apps’ and a ‘Maker’s Space’. Imaginative seating, great sight-lines, unique furniture as well as community areas were all carefully incorporated. Additionally, the educator training cycle put in place by Action Impact and EISF would continue in the future so that the correct educators would be integrated into the programme to support the longevity and facilitation of the UAE’s future innovators.

Action Impact’s partnership with the UAEU, Abu Dhabi Education Council, Al Bayt Mitwahid as well as Google was the recipe for the Innovation Hub to be a decisive success.

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by Hedley Grist