The University of Newcastle (UON) is a leading educational institution providing a range of courses in the field of design and architecture. UON approached Scintilla and asked if we could act as the Industrial Design course co-ordinator and design lecturer for the final year design students. The role involved academic work in the form of research, preparation and presenting of course lectures, delivering tutorials, setting and grading design project coursework, managing student’s expectations as well as administration work.
Scintilla viewed this as an opportunity to develop capacity in this group of students and so developed a collegiate atmosphere, a course program that challenged and developed new skills and brought new design perspectives to the students. Whilst maintaining a focus on product design Scintilla extended the students thinking and capabilities by introducing concepts of human centred design, service and strategic design, system level thinking and advanced research methodologies to the role of product design and innovation. Scintilla, through a series of unique student briefs which were based on real world scenarios, encouraged the students to explore, interact and be creative in the development of their solutions and presentation for each brief.
Design projects reinforced key concepts and encouraged the students to venture into the community in order to conduct research and develop insights which would inform their project. This challenged the students to move beyond the idea of an isolated product and to examine the broader context or system within which a product exists.
Through regular readings, project work and lectures the students developed a deeper understanding of the scope of design and how it might be applied in their own design practice. The notion of a reflective practice was introduced to the students through a series of exercises that allowed them to reflect on themselves, their work and their own (design) practice.
The final semester required students to draw on their newly developed skills and develop a major piece of research and product/product – service – system in a field of their choosing. Students were encouraged to find and partner with an external industry expert in their field of research that would provide guidance and advice throughout the project. At the end of the course, students were required to present their final body of work which included, design reports, models and design journals to a marking panel that included university academics, external supervisors and industry representatives. Students work was displayed as part of their graduate exhibition.