Match Studio is a research and learning space that brings together work-integrated learning and industry-linked projects to create pragmatic, valuable learning experiences. They provide opportunities for students across a range of disciplines to come together, engage, and co-create innovative solutions to real-world challenges. Jesse Neill spoke with Jane Andrew and other members of the Match Studio team to discuss previous projects and the upcoming opportunities available for UniSA students.
In 2009, Founding Director of Match Studio Jane Andrew, was asked to develop a consultancy with the school of Architecture and Design to help contribute to meaningful project work. The challenge was enabling students to do project work that actually provided them with real-world experience, as many of the practices and businesses within the design field are not able to take on work experience. Jane Andrew explains how out of this challenge came Match Studio, which now draws from more than 40 of UniSA’s academic disciplines to create project-specific groups that approach real-world industry problems from new perspectives.
“Our cross-disciplinary approach means it’s students from different fields working together. For instance, interior architects working with architects happens all the time, what doesn’t happen often in universities and learning environments is taking students from different disciplines and making them work together. This is what is actually happening in the real world when you’re out at work – you might have somebody on a stakeholder group or project group that is from a completely different field of study. How this works in Match Studio is that health professionals could be working with architects and engineers – university students really don’t get that opportunity very often. They might do simulated projects, but they’re still working in a class with students of the same discipline. The whole notion of work-integrated learning is suddenly coming to the attention of industry and universities, and this is the reason why we’ve been focussing so heavily on this”.
Match Studio is heavily committed to extending work-integrated opportunities beyond traditional placements, providing students with tasks that are useful and important, while giving them a sense of satisfaction in the work they do. They’re giving students the opportunity to engage with various clients, stakeholders, and the community to reach an agreeable outcome and solution that is practical and realistic. As part of a Match Studio project, students must identify and articulate a challenge, then generate and experiment with ideas for products, services, policy and social innovations which they can develop into prototypes. Jane explains that sometimes it can be ambiguous as to what the assessment task might look like or what the outcome might be, but this gives full autonomy to the students.
“What usually happens is we get the client to come in and brief the students. The students then listen to what the client needs and asks questions regarding this preliminary brief. The students then have to go away and do some research. They come back to us with a pitch about what they are going to do to address that client’s needs. We are not overly directive in this process as we like the students to decide what they want their end product to be”.
Miranda Hurren participated in the Peer to Peer Social Media Campaign for the South Australian Police Force and now works for Match Studio as a Social Media Coordinator and Administrative Assistant. The campaign was designed to confront issues young people face when making unsafe choices while partying. SAPOL approached the group with this issue and it was then up to them to come up with a social media campaign that addressed the problem. The project took groups of students from various fields of study to create a prototype that will hopefully be used by SAPOL in the future. Miranda explains how this diversity of ideas and opinions contributed to a successful project.
“As a comms student, in previous projects that simulated similar scenarios we’d write a communications plan and that would be it, there’d be no follow up. However, with the Peer to Peer Program, we were really able to contribute to something much bigger by using the wide range of skills from everyone in our group. For instance, design students could bring the campaign to life with interesting logos and have those flashy skills that [comms students] didn’t necessarily have. IT students could get on the web and make us mock websites, apps, games and other things like that; so the end product wasn’t here what we’d hope to do, it was here’s what we’d hope to do and here’s a prototype of what it would be”.
“It’s also really interesting to see the growth of students that usually wouldn’t socialise and meet. By the end of the project they’re all really comfortable and talking with each other all the time. We end up coming in all hours of the day and night to work – there’s laughter and a real sense of excitement.”
Match Studio puts to use transferrable skills in attempting a more contemporary approach to work, compared with the old mentality of being locked into one career pathway. The experience combines the core teachings of uni with unique industry experience that students can learn from and put towards their work portfolio. John Gartland, UniSA’s Senior Placement Officer agrees with this approach and believes it’s a great opportunity for students.
“This breaks the mould of traditional internships where you would go into the industry and get ‘experience’. Match Studio is a much more realistic approach that challenges students. You are much more likely to get these sorts of interactions in industry, where you are working with people in different fields, and its about the contrast and combination of these ideas and skills. I guess there is the unwritten experience as well, of actually navigating that cultural space between ‘engineers think a certain way’ and ‘IT students think a certain way’ and often its never the twain shall meet, but bring them all together like we do with Match Studio and they feed off each other – the response is remarkable”.
Match Studio works with industry, government and not-for profit organisations, demonstrating the wide reach of their industry connections. They’ve been able to cultivate recurrent partnerships, and overtime have conducted different iterations of these projects. Examples of their most recent projects include the Peer to Peer Drug Driving, Visualising Mental Health, Maggie Beer: Redesigning dining in aged care homes, Modbury Age Friendly Precinct Project, Master Plan and Design Proposals for mine site remediation, Drink Dine Design, 90 Days of Social Housing Project, and the 2018 Match Tournament.
Overall, these projects stretch beyond normal disciplinary study at university. They provide students with real world experience and take a multi-disciplinary approach to encourage a mixture of ideas and opinions. They are not only focused on students but community initiatives and the ideas that come out of combining different fields and personality types. They hope to grow this opportunity throughout the year so stay tuned to Match Studio. Check out their website for more information about these past projects and exciting opportunities coming soon.
Words by Jesse Neill.