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STEAM+ Project in Linz, Austria

By Bernardo H.YAN, BA in Game Design, Hanze University, Netherlands

On May 8th, I took the plane from Amsterdam to Austria for the STEAM+ project. Before I went to Austria, I was very stressed about this trip. There were a few nights I had bad dreams about the plane crashing into a building. And I certainly did not expect much from this trip due to the high-level anxiety and stress. However, it turned out to be much better than I expected.

The day I arrived in Linz was not exactly a nice experience to me. I was late for my flight and I only had 20 minutes to run from the check-in point to the gate. By the time I finally arrived the gate, I was breathing so hard and there was extreme pain in my chest. I finally lost support for myself and fell down. That’s when I got my knees injured. When I arrived in Linz, I was looking for a store, and apparently, stores are closed on Sundays in Austria. That’s when I experience cultural shock for the first time. When I arrived in the Netherlands about a year and a half ago, I did not experience anything that I would call it “cultural shock”. However, when I was in Austria, I did. There are so many things that caught me by surprise. I was not even adapted to the environment. With frustration and being exhausted, I went to bed much earlier than usual.

On Monday, we started the project. I had some very nice conversations with people from different countries with different education background. And there was a guy sitting next to me with whom I developed a connection very fast. During the project, there were a few lectures discussing science, society, engineering, gamification, talents, trans-disciplinary learning and collaboration. I am a game design student with some science and engineering background, and sociology and music experience, which made me had both emotional and intellectual resonance with all the topics. From Day 1, I learned the differences between inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary.

Tuesday is the “tech” day. In the morning, we had some electrical engineering practices, which reminds me of my old days with engineering. In the afternoon, we had a workshop in the field of general engineering and learned the connections between engineering and other professional fields. We were also building rubber band vehicles and had a lot of fun. What I got from Tuesday’s workshops is the trans-disciplinary connections between engineering and other professional fields.

Wednesday is a special day as we had a lecture about 3D modelling and 3D printing. Also, we were going to a local museum. As a game design student, I am not unfamiliar with 3D modelling and 3D printing. It is a common prototyping method that I had used. In the afternoon, when we were in the museum, I learned the importance of caution during technology development, AI designing, and the fascinating abilities of AI. Humanity has been facing more and harder challenges than before. However, technologies are more evolved and more advanced than before, too. The idea of trans-disciplinary collaboration can be the means for us to come up with solutions.

We started researching and coming up with solutions for societal challenges on Thursday. With three other people, my group came up with a possible solution for raising people’s awareness of conspiracy in social media by designing a game. I was bringing my knowledge of game design and media research, and my skills of PowerPoint slide show design and development into the project.

Friday is the last day of the STEAM+ project. With my teammate, Simon, presenting our solution to the rest of the attendants, we had the best design of all the groups.

Saying goodbye is always difficult. In 5 days, I’ve met so many brilliant people and had so many great conversations. I have learned so much about the STEAM+ trans-disciplinary thinking, the importance of openness and communication, the importance of seeing things from different perspectives, and even learned my own limits. It has been a fantastic trip, an experience that I never ever imagined. Also, special, and huge thanks to Erik, with whom I developed a connection deeply so fast. Thanks to Johannes Kepler University and all the people attended in the project. This has been an unforgettable and fascinating experience to me.

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