David and Goliath Crossing the Bridge
This paper presents the comparison of two different Design Education institutions regarding: a) the
existence, weight and role of research disciplines in the Design program; b) the theme and nature of
master thesis and PhD dissertations; and c) the role companies and industry in general play in driving
and/or being driven by the research developed at those Design Programs.
The analysis is twofold and comprehends:
1) A micro level where a synthesis of the major discrepancies between the two institutions has been
made. The different parameters to be observed and scrutinized are: the curricula, the horizontal and
vertical integration of the disciplines (bachelor to PhD courses), the link of the courses with internal
and external research units and the collaboration between students and companies in general.
2) A macro level addressing the context. It includes various variables such as the background of each
institution and some external variables that play a key role in the way design, research, education and
economical agents (companies) perceive their roles and interact. They are: the country policy/attitudes
towards design and research; the degree of maturity in using design on the part of the companies; the
awareness and perception the country’s design has worldwide.
Being a descriptive study it is mainly based on literature, facts and figures. However, an experiment
done with students from both countries collaborating with and within a company will be presented in
order to illustrate the key issues addressed in this paper.