Accelerated Warfare, as the futures statement for Army, outlines the challenges faced in a rapidly changing environment. How we respond to these challenges will be in part governed by how we ‘think, equip, train, educate, organise and prepare for war’. Enhancing the way we think, train and educate is therefore a critical component of preparing our people—individually and collectively—to face future threats in an environment categorised by a multitude of technological innovations arising from Artificial Intelligence, human-machine teaming, quantum computing, cyber, space and robotics.
Future Land Warfare’s Australian Army Research Centre (AARC) is evaluating how Army might enhance creative thinking and problem solving skills. Specifically, we are investigating whether the MakerSpace approach to learning and innovation has the potential to develop creative problem-solving skills and inculcate a culture of innovation within Army. Research and a pilot were undertaken in 2019, as referenced in the Land Power Forum articles:
- Enhancing Army’s intellectual capacity through MakerSpaces
- MakerSpaces in Army: Encouraging innovation through non-linear thinking
- MakerSpaces in Army - a practical application
- Building a Makerspace Facilitation Team
The MakerSpace Program is in a trial phase with the establishment of six MakerSpaces for evaluation. There are two portable MakerSpaces and four fixed site facilities. These are being managed by:
- 1 Brigade – Darwin (1 CSSB) and Adelaide (1 CSST) (portable facilities)
- 2 Commando Regiment – Holsworthy, NSW
- 6 Brigade – 7 Signals Regiment – Cabarlah, QLD
- 7 Brigade – 7 Combat Signals Regiment – Enoggera, QLD
- 13 Brigade – Perth, WA.
The evaluation will examine the value to Army of MakerSpaces as a tool for delivering education in creative thinking and problem solving skills.
There are three streams of use:
- Education programs :
- Deakin University – integrated creative thinking/problem solving skills through a user-centred Design Thinking approach.
- BMNT Australia – Lean Innovation Accelerated
- AxisAgile – Agile/Scrum training
- University of South Australia – Creative thinking and problem solving skills. Professor David Cropley, an organisational psychologist in the UniSA Engineering Department, will measure the impact of the program on the development of creative thinking and problem solving skills.
- Unit level activities. Units will develop their own activities to learn in the MakerSpace – typically referred to as Sprints.
- Personal use. People who have been inducted into the space and trained on the equipment can access the facility in their own time to work on projects of their choosing subject to safety conditions.
Engineering support is being provided by QinetiQ who have experience in developing MakerSpaces (for example the Telstra Creator Space at Melbourne University) and already provide engineering services to Defence through Defence Science and Technology Group.
Deakin University has designed a five-day MakerSpace course with a learning approach fundamentally based on developing creative thinking and problem solving skills. The outcome will be achieved by generating innovation through systems thinking involving people, technology, iterative explorative (divergent), convergent and ultimately ‘disruptive’ thinking.
Deakin University’s School of Engineering specialises in delivering project oriented design-based learning (PODBL) programs. PODBL programs are specifically designed to foster development of design, engineering and entrepreneurial skills. These skills are required to develop, think and run complex mechanical systems, devices and machines of the future under the umbrella of a user-centred approach.
The course delivery will utilise design thinking methodologies stemming from the "Learn by doing” approach adopted by the Stanford d. School model, as well as IDEO and The Design Council Double Diamond design methodology, and it will include a tailored set of progressive and relevant challenges to broaden the thinking mentality and problem solving approach of Army personnel.
Learning Objectives include:
- Non-linear creative thinking methodology
- User-centred design thinking
- Agile prototyping
- Problem solving