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Industry matters: Multidisciplinary approaches in academic programmes

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Multidisciplinary approaches have been instrumental in furthering design learning, exemplifying live industrial design projects which flavour aspects of the product design curriculum, also contribute to economic well being. This aligns with current policy in the United Kingdom (UK) where higher education matters because it drives innovation and economic transformation. Higher education helps to produce economic growth, which in turn contributes to national prosperity. [1] This paper is an investigation into what happens in case study one, which is a government sponsored Knowledge Transfer Partnership compared to a more traditional live client undergraduate project in case study two; it describes the journey taken by students and the companies involved, discussing the relative fortunes of the outcomes. In the second case study the design brief was generated by a local toy distribution company, the prime objective being to support UK business through the development of new product lines. In particular, the paper will aim to investigate the multi and interdisciplinary aspects of this kind of live projects, and relates them to the design pedagogy of situated learning. Thus, the authors explored the impact on technical skill sets, the effectiveness of undergraduate (UG) learning informed by multiple university departments and with commercial clients setting the brief, exposing students to safety standards, resource management and the global market, manufacturing processes and locations associated with the design of toys and games. This interdisciplinary engagement is made visible through both the UK government funding schemes and local companies seeking university design input, within this context our role is as academic partners working with knowledge seeking companies and the proverbial ivory tower.




Schaber, F., & Turner, R. (2012). Industry matters: Multidisciplinary approaches in academic programmes. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education for Future Wellbeing, EPDE 2012 (pp. 679–683).

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