Learning from each other: a manufacturing company collaborates with undergraduate designers during the initial stages of idea generation

2006-07-05T16:53:56Z (GMT) by Howard G. Denton D.C. McDonagh
The paper describes an exercise where a British manufacturer and a group of industrial design undergraduates worked together in developing initial ideas for ‘blue sky’ concepts. The aim was for undergraduate students to experience direct involvement with a product development team from a manufacturing company. The company, in return, wanted its team to become exposed to initial concept development work which is normally carried external to this team in a separate design department. Students were placed in small design teams and worked together over an intense three-day period. Students from all years were invited to apply for a limited number of places and selected on the basis of enthusiasm for the project rather than expertise and previous academic achievement. The exercise was evaluated by staff observation, student feedback questionnaires and questions to the company staff. Discussion concludes that there are significant advantages to operating concentrated design project work, whether it is team or individually based. Such techniques are highly intensive. Students rise to the challenge, outputs are good in terms of ideas and the positive experience for students. However, it is recommended that such projects should not be conducted too frequently, due to the intensity for both staff and students.