Materials library remains restricted

Yesterday, development of a web app that would have allowed all TU Delft students to view a currently restricted IDE Faculty materials library was put on hold.

A pilot project to incorporate mobile apps into traditional TU Delft classrooms was put on hold yesterday. Master’s students who will take the IDE course “Design for Materials” next January were supposed to be the first at TU Delft to use a custom-made mobile app to enhance formal instruction. But concerns over data privacy halted the project.

“Now, the ICT department is questioning whether we can use the data openly,” said Dr. Elvin Karana, the Design for Materials instructor and the project’s initiator.

“Made of …,” the working name of the app, was supposed to catalogue visual and factual materials data from an existing physical library into a publicly available online database. Suitable for mobile devices, the app would have been designed in HTML5 for the web and accessible through any browser, said Karin Clavel, the app’s project manager. TU Delft estimates that 81 percent of all TU Delft students use a smart phone as their primary mobile device.

The materials library, located at the IDE faculty, is made of physical materials samples and information sheets that are filled in by the companies who provide the samples. The companies have given TU Delft consent to store the info in the library, which is currently restricted to IDE faculty and students.

But TU Delft’s ICT team stopped the project because the companies did not give TU Delft explicit permission to make their samples and data available through any other medium or to the rest of TU Delft.

“Either we need to get permission from each company, or we need to find another solution.” Karana said. If the companies agree, she intends to first allow app access to IDE students. Eventually, she would like all of TU Delft to have access to the database.

Karana’s goals were to have students “share their material driven design projects, how they experienced the material and how they could shape it and embody it into a product.” Moreover, she thought “Made of …” could foster curiosity over how materials affect product design.

Recent IDE grad, Katherine Whalen said, “A lot of information has been collected and documented for ‘Made of …,” adding, “the app could be useful.”

The project has been stopped indefinitely with no new launch date.