Faculty of Arts renovations funded by Research Support Fund

The University of Waterloo is a research intensive yet comprehensive university. Science and discovery are among Waterloo’s strengths, but research and innovation in the Faculty of Arts provides opportunities that advance knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, and creative arts.

Renovations in two labs at Waterloo are examples of this.

The Usability Lab, formerly video editing suites, is an innovative three-room observation and testing laboratory. With the evolution of digital initiatives worldwide and the research underway at Waterloo to support this increasing method of communication, a usability lab is paramount to fully understanding and developing new digital initiatives.

The unique setup of three rooms, connected in a row with dividers for the middle room made of one-way glass, allows an observer to watch activity taking place in each of the other rooms. The ability to test physically, evaluate a prototype, and observe someone interacting with digital technology ensures that usability is assessed on multiple levels.

Naturally, this distinctive lab required funding. Ninety per cent of research grants in this faculty are funded by the Tri-Council and, unlike other faculties, Arts has very few industry partners and external grants. Since the Research Support Fund provides funding for expenses incurred in research management, which often aren’t eligible for Tri-Council funding, it’s truly valuable to Arts researchers, and, in this case, the only opportunity available to turn video editing suites into a Usability Lab.

Likewise, a unique table that creates opportunities for collaborative, hands-on work is a new addition to the Engage Lab for Gamification and User Experience at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. The custom standing-height project table was built and installed by plant operations staff at Waterloo, but even infrastructure at a relatively minimal cost isn’t possible without funding. The Research Support Fund enabled researchers to incorporate this unique addition to a lab that houses a 3D printer, augmented and virtual reality technology, as well as high definition televisions and cameras to further collaboration in this multi-functional lab.

July, 2016