Education system not failing product design

Are you sure, Messrs Johnson and Powell, that design courses don’t deliver (News Analysis, DW 23 March)? Can I give you a positive example?

Twenty years and five jobs ago, I graduated from one of the UK’s best industrial design degree courses, based at a large Midlands polytechnic. The course was excellent, I landed a job during the degree show, but there was then very little tuition during the final year.

Compare this with a good industrial/ product design degree of today. Our final-year students, for example, have lecture programmes in design management/ professional practice (with guest speakers), computer aided design (Structural Dynamics Research Corporation ideas, 3D Studio Max, AutoCad) and industrial design (Royal Society of Arts project or choice of a live project).

The students also produce a major project, for which each is assigned three tutors who meet with the student each week. Most of the projects result in an inventive, working prototype, which is accompanied by detailed market and manufacturing reports. They are examined by senior designers and academics from outside the university before being shown at the degree show and at New Designers exhibition in London.

The graduates are highly employable (we currently have nine in Dyson Research & Development), creative, skilled in Cad/ DFM, and have a mature understanding of design in the context of the organisation and market.

As a student, my own first-class portfolio might have scraped a 2:1 at this particular institution, but there’s no way I could have hit the ground running in the way that many modern graduates can.

Jez Bradley

Design courses co-ordinator

South Bank University

bradlejj@sbu.ac.uk

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