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Are Dyson's 'undergraduate pods' the future?

The Dyson Institute unveil their five-star undergraduate pods, which are set for completion in September 2018

Posted by Lucinda Reid | January 02, 2018 | Bricks & mortar

The Dyson Institute of Engineering & Technology has been described as ‘unlike any other educational establishment’, and its equally unique accommodation and undergraduate facilities are set for completion in September 2018.

The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology teaches high quality engineering degrees to the next generation of tech enthusiasts, alongside a full-time role at Dyson.

During this four-year programme students learn about engineering through hands-on experience in Dyson’s Research and Development department with academic training provided by WMG, the University of Warwick. The engineers will graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering degree. The first cohort of students began the programme in Autumn 2017.

When it came to developing and designing the spaces for the Dyson Institute, Sir James Dyson wanted to build on the campus-like feel that Malmesbury already exudes,” explained Chris Wilkinson, the architect responsible for the existing buildings on site.

“Saying that, James and I are no longer in our youth, so it was important to reach out to the new undergraduate engineers for a little direction! Armed with their suggestions, we set to work on the Dyson Institute buildings.”

From the start of the 2018 academic year, the undergraduate engineers will have the opportunity to live in 78 modular pods stacked up to three high in a cascading layout. Each unit is 4m x 8m, and contains a sleeping and study area, a bathroom and ample storage. Large windows make the most of the Wiltshire views, while the desks are designed by James Dyson.

James and I are no longer in our youth, so it was important to reach out to the new undergraduate engineers for a little direction

Unlike many prefabricated structures that are manufactured as a flat pack for subsequent assembly, these pods will arrive fully built and fitted inside. From the day they are delivered they will take just two days to stack.

They are also made from cross-laminated timber (CLT), a relatively new construction material that offers exceptional strength. This allows them to be stacked without the need for further supporting structures. External aluminium panels will protect them from the elements, while green roofs will integrate them into the surrounding landscape. The work is being undertaken by a specialist firm in Scotland, as building in three dimensions with CLT on this scale is unprecedented.

From the start of the 2018 academic year those who want to live on site will have the opportunity to do so.

The technology campus in Malmesbury, Wiltshire hosts some of the engineering industry’s most advanced labs as well as hands-on prototyping spaces, workshops and breakout areas for collaborative projects.

Dedicated spaces in Dyson’s RDD buildings have been tailored to the needs of the undergraduate engineers. Connected to our state-of-the-art laboratories and workshops, these rooms have been developed to reflect the diverse needs of a modern approach to teaching and learning. The lecture room is named after James Dyson’s first engineering mentor, the late Jeremy Fry.

Downstairs, a fully-equipped lab space allows the undergraduate engineers to reinforce their academic learning before testing it on live projects and industrial machines. It’s here that the cohort will demonstrate engineering theories in practice.

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