Multidisciplinary Design

The world is changing and to survive we must change with it. No longer an industrial society, we have to embrace technology and innovation to compete. But what drives technology and innovation? What makes one product more successful than another? Perhaps design drives innovation.

Higher education matters because it drives innovation and economic transformation. Higher education helps to produce economic growth, which in turn contributes to national prosperity….Employing graduates creates innovation, enabling firms to identify and make more effective use of knowledge, ideas and technology.

However, in order for design to drive innovation, students need to be knowledgeable in other disciplines other than design. According to the report on Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK, innovation drives new skills and a supply of differently skilled people drives innovation. Therefore, we need people who can not only design but have had exposure to other disciplines other than their own and are comfortable working with teams in many disciplines.

Designers, in order to be competitive, need skills beyond design in order to be competitive.

  1. They need to be able to understand and articulate the client’s needs and markets.
  2. Designers need the communication skills to explain their work to employers.
  3. Designers often business owners  so they need entrepreneurial skills as well.
  4. Designers need to gain exposure to a variety of established businesses, writing design briefs and working in teams with authentic businesses.
  5. Designers that have a broader view of science and technology so they can work with the subject experts.
  6. Working with engineering students, materials scientists and computing specialists will help designers  know more about the design of environmentally sustainable products.

There are many ways for universities to integrate multidisciplinary design in their courses. They can use authentic client projects, mentors from businesses, bring in visiting lecturers, help students get internships in businesses other than design businesses. This exposure will raise the likelihood  their students will be employed and help drive the economy in innovation.

Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK. Report and recommendations from the Multi-Disciplinary Design Network, November 2010.

Quote:  Lord Browne of Madingley (2010). Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education. as quoted in Multi-disciplinary Design Education in the UK. Report and recommendations from the Multi-Disciplinary Design Network, November 2010.

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