Industrial Briefs for Student Projects – A Company Perspective

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Humphries-Smith, Tania Maxine; Hunt, Clive; Dowlen, Chris; Vaitkevicius, Simon
Series: E&PDE
Section: Design Education and Business 1
Page(s): 23-28


The use of industry collaborative projects is clearly widespread across Europe, America and Australia, in particular, and much has been written about the use of industrial or ‘live’ briefs for undergraduate projects within design and engineering courses in Higher Education (Dyer et al 2010; Eriksen et al 2010; Eriksen 2009; Liem, 2009; Okudan et al 2006; Dong & Turnock, 2007). Generally, these papers have understandably concentrated on the learning experiences, benefits and difficulties from the perspective of the undergraduates working on the project. Eriksen et al (2010) while acknowledging their survey was focused on education staff reports on an article published by The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) that indicates a ‘growing interest’ from companies in being involved in these kind of projects. However, as Liem (2009) discusses how the drivers for the industrial partner to desire to become involved with a higher education design project have a significant impact on that project.

Thus, this paper focuses on industry collaborative projects from the perspective of the industrial partner. The paper is based on the experiences of one industrial partner working with two HEIs using a shared project brief over two academic years. The paper discusses the drivers from the perspective of the industrial partner regarding the desire to offer such a brief in the first instance and then expand the collaboration to include a second HEI and on the perceived benefits of such a collaboration. The study reports on a number of interviews with different stakeholders within the industry partner.

The first collaboration, became a reality through the Royal Academy of Engineering visiting Teaching Fellowship scheme. As the primary mode of operation of design teaching is through project engagement, it seemed ideal to commence the Fellowship with an industry-based project that was carried out in the spring and summer of 2010, aimed at giving second year product design students a group project with an industrial client. The project took place in two parts. The first of these was to investigate brand perceptions for a range of companies. In the second part of the project, students were developing concepts that reached the stage of a physical model. A second project continued with MSc students in Design and Manufacturing Management in the autumn of 2010, and a further project is planned for second year students in the spring of 2011.

Student comments on the first project were extremely favourable; commenting that the best thing about the project was the client and (surprisingly) the way the client assessed the work. They appreciated the way that the project mimicked real life. So, from the University perspective, a success. From the industry perspective, it gave the opportunity to meet students and to present relevant information about the way industry works to them so that they can be far better prepared and so that when industry wishes to recruit, there is a larger pool of recruits that are able to engage effectively with the community of practice that is carrying out real product design work.

Keywords: industry briefs; live briefs; collaboration; design projects


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