SERAS team member Richard Waterstone was a speaker at UNIMAKER 2020 this September.

UNIMAKER is an academic makerspace conference, hosted by the University of Sheffield for those working or studying in and around Higher Education who love making, creating, designing, inventing, building and exploring using a range of different tools and materials. Starting in 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, UNIMAKER 2020 went online in 2020, attracting over 100 delegates from across the world over two days.

You can watch to Richard’s presentation at UNIMAKER 2020, in which he discusses the successful SERAS Environment Making Challenge that we held last June and July.

In his talk, entitled ‘Lessons from an online IoT Making event during Lockdown’, Richard explores the use of remote Making as a potentially powerful educational tool.

Richard explains that the multidisciplinary approach to problem solving adopted by the project, with diverse pathways into designing and finding solutions to problems, worked well to prepare participants for the workplace of the future, in which a wide variety of roles and soft human attributes will be required if the UK is to take advantage of the opportunities offered by 4IR technologies such as IoT.

Utilising the Making community and ethos to draw people further into technological awareness and facility offers educators a method and format that can readily be scaled, within or outwith the constraints of lockdown and the unfolding context of Covd-19.

Developing relationships between educators, Makers and digital exclusion networks will need to be fostered if such events are to be scaled sufficiently to impact the skills deficit around technologies such as IoT.

The efficacy of Making in knowledge construction is altered but not necessarily diminished when participants are unable to design, build and publicly share physical objects, due to a lack of access to physical resources. Participant observation of Making and the group dynamic that can be forged in an online learning community can lend significant authenticity and tangibility to the learning process.

Richard, with Sheffield Robotics Professor Tony Prescott, wrote about these ideas and more in their report, IoT in Lockdown – a remote engagement, which you can find here:

If you are interested in discussing any of these ideas with Richard, please contact him at

You can watch all of the talks from UNIMAKER 2020 on their website, including bonus material and tips for making.

For a taste, watch the highlights of UNIMAKER 2019 here:

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