Studies confirm that companies who promote collaborative working environments are five times more likely to be high performing. More companies are redesigning workspaces and investing in collaborative areas for employees to thrive and innovate. These are spaces that promote and leverage creative, critical thinking. As students enter the workforce, they have to be prepared for the ever-evolving workplace. They have to be active contributors to innovation and creative ideation. So how can school districts better prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce? How do facility planners think differently about the use of open collaborative spaces in schools?
In Central Florida, Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) took this opportunity to re-evaluate how they designed student training areas for the workforce of tomorrow with its new Career Innovation Center at Lyman High School, SCPS’s first project in creating a true cross-disciplinary environment. The focus was to enhance the learning experience for students by promoting collaboration between faculty and maximizing opportunities to work with local business leaders.
By replacing two outdated buildings, the Career Innovation Center permits the expansion of Lyman High School’s existing building trades program, provides new facilities for automotive technology and offers space for a portion of their engineering program to ignite collaboration between the trades. Programmed with classrooms that open up to two high bay labs, students have access to state-of-the-art equipment and tools. Over 4,000 SF of exterior work areas are equipped with additional car lifts and mechanical equipment, and covered extended areas are provided for students to work on carpentry projects.
SCPS selected BRPH to lead the design process because of our unique cross-market industry experience and design process. Using Design Through Discovery, stakeholders were engaged to create a showcase facility for two pathways the SCPS references as “leak” programs that elevate career technical education and training. Through this process, BRPH was able to bring innovative, novel approaches to security, program design and collaboration through its “Collaboratorium” design concept — a hybrid space designed to allow engineering students to engage with the construction tech and automotive tech students.
The “Collaboratorium” is a space that encourages students to embrace curiosity, creativity and experimentation. It is a space that promotes student-driven collaboration and cultivates both the intellectual and life skills that learners will need to be successful when they enter the workforce. Equipped with a “maker bar” and flexible furnishings, the Career Innovation Center’s design makes it a space for students, owned by students. Envisioned as a fusion between hands-on learning, research and development and student-led activities, the space flows through to the interior hallways, truly allowing experimentation to happen everywhere and also promoting hands-on learning.
The future of collaborative learning is here and being fully embraced by SCPS. Lyman High School’s Career Innovation Center is the next facility in a series of moves by SCPS to consolidate their career tech programs at different sites around the County, in place of smaller programs at multiple campuses. The County will also expand this program to include HVAC, electrical and welding to support the industry’s demand for more skilled labor.