Dorkbot is a worldwide memetic event, loosely based around hackers, artists, musicians, engineers, or anyone else that has a passing interest in circuit bending, 3D printers, physical computing and generally breaking electronics. The catch cry of Dorkbot events is: ‘people doing strange things with electricity’.
The wonderful Pia van Gelder was heroic in maintaining the Dorkbot presence in Sydney for many years at the now defunct Serial Space. In 2014, Pia invited me to join her as co-overlord of the Dorkbot Sydney chapter and bring the events to the UNSW Art & Design campus.
We held 10 Dorkbot events at UNSW Art & Design from 2014-16 (when the campus was still known as COFA) on topics ranging from biohacking to electromechanical percussion. You can find flyers from the events here.
On 2nd April 2016, I led a collaborative community event between UNSW Art & Design and the Autism CRC group based at UNSW Medicine, titled Autism MeetUp. We wanted to showcase all the different research projects across these two faculties at UNSW, as well as giving the autism community a chance to come and meet us in person. The event was very successful with over 70 autistic children and adults, family members, carers/support people and health professionals in attendance. See some pictures below from the event.
We promoted the event to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day and be held on a quiet day on the UNSW Paddington campus. The concept behind the event was to allow visitors to:
Wander around and have a look at a number of different stands, which contain information about different research projects;
Talk to the researchers in a relaxed, informal and friendly environment;
Share ideas and feedback about the different projects;
Sign up for a research project which may be of interest; and
Share ideas about what the group should be researching.
We asked visitors to provide us with feedback on the event. Happily, 94% of people who gave feedback were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the event and said they were ‘likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to attend the event if it was run again.
Here were some of the comments left by attendees at Autism MeetUp:
“(I liked the) casual and approachable atmosphere. Engaging researchers who are clearly committed to furthering our knowledge base.”
“(I liked) being able to move freely amongst various tables, meeting and chatting… As an advocate, parents benefit from open opportunities like this to get the sense of support, and information exchange between parents, looking forward to future events.”
“It was good to meet some of the younger researchers and discuss their projects… It was refreshing to be exposed to newer ideas, some brought about of course by increasing medical technology”