An investigation into a digital strategy for industrial design education
2020-01-03T17:08:35Z (GMT) by
Digital design tools and techniques facilitate efficiency gains, shorten development times, and aid collaboration between members of product development teams. As the range of digital tools available to the industrial designer increases, the aim of this research was to investigate the viability of a totally digital industrial design strategy and opportunities to employ the methods in design education. Published literature indicated a general lack of research in the use of digital design tools and media by industrial design students and practitioners. This research employed empirical surveys, which indicated that whilst the use of digital methods increased as the design solution progressed, practitioners were using digital tools/media more extensively than the students. The findings also revealed a negative reaction to a completely digital industrial design strategy and curriculum, despite the fact that the majority of practitioners believed in the capacity of digital tools/media to replace conventional methods. Losing the spontaneity of paper-based sketching was identified as the main concern about a totally digital process and this issue was further investigated through a case study in which industrial/product design students employed the Tablet PC as a tool for concept generation. Student responses indicated overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards the use and capabilities of the Tablet PC as a tool for digital sketching and its use as a self-contained design tool. Following the first phase of empirical studies, a draft digital industrial design strategy was devised and presented to graduating students, academics and practitioners for feedback. Findings revealed that the majority of graduating students were receptive to the strategy and modifications applied in response to feedback. The research concludes that industrial design programmes are failing to fully avail of the breadth of advanced and emerging digital technologies that can be used during practice. Despite the fact that the majority of interviewees felt that the digital industrial design strategy was feasible, cost and the resistance of academics who had an interest in the use of conventional tools was holding back educational progress. Recommendations for curriculum development have been identified for a more extensive introduction to, and use of, digital tools.