Completion of the JISC Kit-Catalogue Project

6 Jan

This final project case study provides an overview of the 9-month JISC funded Kit-Catalogue project carried out by the Centre for Engineering and Design Education (Loughborough University) and outlines the main outputs and outcomes from the activities.  It describes the approach taken; details of the system itself; the catalogue at Loughborough and outcomes for the community.

Kit-Catalogue is an open source equipment database system and by using the catalogue within their own institutions, organisations will be able to work towards more efficiency, utilising the assets already in existence and lessening the need for duplication of material assets to become a more sustainable campus.  Benefits include:

  • reduced need for heating and occupation of additional space within buildings for duplicated equipment;
  • avoids unnecessary purchasing, manufacturing and shipping of products;
  • maximises opportunity for use of specialist equipment locally by research students, departments and schools;
  • potential to promote equipment use externally to regional HEIs, industry and Small to Medium Enterprises (SME).

Download the Kit-Catalogue system here.

The project has benefited from a significant amount of continuation funding from Loughborough University, December 2011 – Juy 2012, (for an internship position, system developer and marketing and support specialists) to continue to develop the current system and support the implementation at any interested UK Higher Education Institutions.  The project is also following links with JISC Procureweb to explore joining up catalogues in the UK HE sector.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us at: kit-catalogue@lboro.ac.uk.  We hope to go out and demonstrate the system as widely as possible and plan an open event for potential adopters some time in Spring 2012.

Reflections

The JISC funding gave the system a massive boost in terms of momentum of adding items to the catalogue within our own institution and opened up talks with senior managers on our staff’s attitude and Institutional culture on the re-use and sharing of equipment.  The project was very lucky to have an extremely effective steering group comprising of representatives from academia, administration, IT Services, Operations and Senior Management.

The project also allowed our Institution to explore the idea of open linked data with our IT Services and sowed the seed of activity in this emerging innovative area of web development and generally the culture of open access to data.

The most unexpected occurrence has been the amount of interest in our Project from many diverse groups of people, from Research groups and RCUK, to purchasing and asset management organisations as well as a great deal of interest from the Midlands 5 group of universities (Leicester, Nottingham, Warwick, Birmingham and Loughborough).  This has had both positive (from a project perspective) and challenging (from a time perspective) impacts.  Because of this, the team has had more meetings with our own Research committees, Marketing, Publicity and the Enterprise office – which has led to more briefing materials being produced, trademark applications and lots of conversations with our commercialisation people about the difference between open source and commercial software for example.

However, from the momentum achieved and the interest the Project has garnered, the University has committed to invest in the project further and Prof Rachel Thomson has successfully bid for a further amount of money to continue with Kit-Catalogue for 9 months and sustain the project.   The system will now reside as a corporate application within our central IT Services (rather than on our Faculty Engineering server) and as such, given the additional resources required to sustain it in the long term.  This demonstrates Loughborough’s continued commitment to this work.

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