Industry links help create world-class designers…

The Dyson School of Design Innovation has been given the go-ahead for Bath, awaiting a final decision from the Government (News Analysis, DW 3 April), and JCB is pushing forward with its academy. Both are due to open their doors in 2010.

These two successful design-led organisations are investing a great deal of time and money in ensuring their design academies work in close conjunction with industry. They clearly believe that tomorrow’s engineers and designers require regular hands-on contact with industry. I completely agree.

For two years, Matter has worked alongside two of our clients with Design for Industry students at the University of Northumbria. Clients create the brief for the students, with Matter providing management and creative support.

The benefits of industry’s involvement with academic institutions are clear. As one of the students involved in these projects, I know just how valuable these academic-industry exchanges can be. They have made a massive impact on my development as an industrial designer. Working on projects for real clients provides students with a great insight into industry.

The university gets paid for its time, and often strikes up valuable links with the brands and manufacturers it has been working with. And Matter is provided with a fantastic breadth of creative work, as well as a chance to keep an eye out for talent.

Paul Pritchard, who is in charge of the new JCB academy, believes that having industry working with the education system is a great way of ensuring that the workforce of the future has world-class skills.

This sets the tone for the way design education needs to evolve to ensure a world-class British workforce, which can compete with the many designers and engineers emerging in the Far East.

As a result of my involvement in live projects at the university, I’m proud to say I’m now a designer at Matter.

Chris Weston, Designer, Matter, by e-mail

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