Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Industrial design course will help meet future demand

Posted by Kimberly on July 25, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
July 25, 2007, page 4 (699 words)

The Inter-University Institute of Macau (IIUM) has added a new undergraduate degree to their curriculum, enabling students interested in industrial design to learn more about the processes and concepts.
Dr Richard Whitfield, Dean of School of Intelligence Systems and Technology, who helped proposed the course to the appropriate governmental body, believes the course is significant considering the location of Macau.
“If you look in the Pearl River Delta, it’s a major manufacturing area,” he said.
“Historically most of the manufacturing in the Delta has been OEM manufacturing (original equipment manufacturing).
“But recently it’s been more ODM (original design manufacturing) so that in the past, an American or European company would come with the design and ask it be made as cheap and quick as possible.
‘Now the clients are coming and saying they need a product that fits this price point and meets this characteristic, can you design and make this product for us.
“And so they need a lot more designers,” he said.
He adds that the future will see a greater demand for designers, with this part of the world in dire need of “places where you can learn industrial design. Probably the best known is Hong Kong Polytechnic,” he said, although, as Mr Filipe Braganca, Course Leader for the Licentiate in Design added, “that’s not pure industrial design, just product design.”
Dr Whitfield believes that Macau is in a transitional phase at the moment, focussing on gambling now but “in the future, it’s going to mostly be focussed on retail, on entertainment, on exhibitions.
‘In those areas, you also need a lot of design, interior design, and designing booths and exhibitions as well as urban and set design.” he said.
The course will integrate sevaral strands of study, including fine arts, “because industrial design and design in general is a very artistic process so we need to sensitise the students to all sorts of art,” said Dr Whitfield.
Laboratory subjects are included to “help develop their specific skills in certain techniques and approaches. Things like project management, like engineering drawing, manufacturing processes.”
A third strand is what the IIUM call “studio work” where students are provided the means of gaining practical experience “a lot of exposure in their studies to work on real projects, for real clients.”
Finally, the fourth strand teaches supporting subjects such as mathematics, physics, as well as marketing and business management.
“Often designers work in a business, like architects, so they need to have some understanding of how a business runs,” said Dr Whitfield.
To go back to the third strand of “studio work,” the IIUM have set up a commercial design company.
“The university has a share-holding in that along with professional designers,” said Dr Whitfield.
“That company is set up to do commercial work on a normal commercial basis. But it is also there to be a vehicle for internships for students,” he said,
This aspect of the course, while continuous throughout the degree, requires students to have completed “eight weeks of full time design work with the company before they can graduate,” according to Dr Whitfield.
For those interested in applying, the process involves both Dr Whitfield and Mr Braganca having a look at what students have accomplished during their high school terms, and then taking a maturity exam and an English placement test, as the course is conducted in English.
“The maturity exam is how we determine how mature a student is, because we are looking for people who are outward going, have a broader perspective,” said Dr Whitfield.
“The English placement test is not a gate of entry. It’s so that we can decide what level of support they need. And typically we interview,” he said.
Graduate placement will be available with IIUM having already spoken to key personnel about setting up a unit within the university to assist with this process.
The university is hoping to attract between 20 and 30 students to the course when the new term begins.
The degree is a generalist course in design which will allow graduates to work in fields as broad as general product design, automotive design, interior and architectural design and within exhibitions, fashion and graphics.

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