Innovation at Play Conference, NUI Galway

26th October 2017

Innovation at Play is a one day experiential symposium which focuses on exploring play for the purpose of innovation. Taking place on the 26th of October, 2017 the event is open to staff of NUI Galway, students, industry partners and professionals to learn how to let their imagination guide their creativity.

The symposium is a time-out for everyone to pause, reflect and play and to think about how their study and work can be enhanced by being more open to all forms of innovation.

To attend this event, please purchase a ticket here.


Session Time

Breakfast and Registration.


Welcome address by University President Dr. James Browne.


Key Notes: Dr. Iain MacLaren, Brenda Romero


Parallel Hands-on, Minds-on Workshops


Creativity Through Mask Making

A workshop tool for reflection on the process of the person as inventor and innovator of self.

Innovation Through Lego Play

A hands-on workshop in Lego play to enhance your innovation in communication, creativity and building shared mental models.

Story Telling Through Sound

In this workshop we shall be exploring ways of telling a story using only sound instead of words.

Innovation through Performance: a Practice-based workshop

Explore how you can use theatre skills to inspire and foster creativity in yourself and the people you work with.

Lunch and Entertainment


Innovation Performance



A one woman show about the world's first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace.

Fireside Chat – Innovation Knows No Boundaries


Dr Iain McClaren, Director, Centre for excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Zoe Philpott, Writer, Director, Designer, Ada.Ada.Ada.

Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway

Brenda Romero, Game Designer and Writer

Keynote Speakers

Brenda Romero

Game Designer, Writer

Brenda Romero is an award-winning game designer, artist and Fulbright scholar who entered the video game industry in 1981. As a designer, she has contributed to many seminal titles, including the Wizardry and Jagged Alliance series and titles in the Ghost Recon and Dungeons & Dragons franchises.

Away from the machine, her analog series of six games, The Mechanic is the Message, has drawn national and international acclaim, particularly Train and Síochán Leat (The Irish Game) which is presently housed in the National Museum of Play.

In 2017, she was awarded the Development Legend award at the Develop conference in the UK. In 2015, she won the coveted Ambassador’s Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards. In 2014, she received a Fulbright award to study Ireland’s game industry, academic and government policies. In 2013, she was named one of the top 10 game developers by and Develop magazine listed her among the 25 people who changed games in 2013. Romero co-owns Romero Games.

Dr Iain McClaren

Director, Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, NUI Galway

Iain is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh (BSc, Astrophysics) and Durham (PhD, Cosmology) and has worked at several universities in Scotland, England and Ireland, researching and lecturing in physics, computing, multimedia, and education.

He is the Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, which he established in 2002 and is passionate about learning and the value of creative approaches to the challenges we all face when learning new and sometimes difficult concepts, skills, and ideas.

Workshops and Performances

Creativity Through Mask Making

11am - 1pm

This workshop offers a facilitated experience using mask making as a tool for reflection on the process of the person as inventor and innovator of self. The workshop uses creativity to explore and critically discuss the challenges and leaning issues that arise in the life/work environment. Participants will have the opportunity to make a mask, be involved in understanding the process of this therapeutic creative approach and discuss the output.

Innovation Through Lego Play

11am - 1pm

Our Lego Serious Play experiences at NUI Galway resulted in increased creativity in terms of our approach to design, it also facilitated the advancement of our new product design process. I look forward to the Innovation at Play Symposium, engaging with other R&D leaders and I wish Mary and her team continued success with the Symposium
- Tom O'Donnell, Vice President, R&D, Advanced Engineering & Technologies Europe, Merit Medical

Story Telling Through Sound

11am - 1pm

During this workshop we shall be using various ordinary, everyday items to create a myriad of sounds that can be used to imbue story with a richer, more coherent narrative; so much so that words are no longer necessary to tell the story. As part of this workshop we shall explore how once differing sounds are placed together, the mind can perceive them to infer different meanings. For example a piece of cellophane can be used to make the sound of ice creaking, the flames of a fire, or the sound of a bone about to be broken. A lot of the techniques demonstrated are used by foley artists around the world in the sound design for the film, game design and radio drama industries.

Innovation through Performance: a Practice-based workshop

11am - 1pm

This workshop explores how participants can use theatre skills to inspire and foster creativity in themselves and the people they work with. We will consider how play, improvisation, and other rehearsal techniques have applications in the worlds of education, business and beyond. No acting skills or experience are needed.



Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first complex algorithm in 1843 and then was written out of history. In the performance, Ada.Ada.Ada, Lovelace tells her story using an LED dress which she operates – live on stage – using her wearable tech satin glove. Ada.Ada.Ada exists to help people, especially girls and women, engage with technology and stem as a career.

Preview the performance here.

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