Providing students with a head start through mentorship and systems thinking within a vertical design studio environment
by Andre Liem
International Journal of Product Development (IJPD), Vol. 9, No. 4, 2009

Abstract: With the globalisation of design, the creation of single-entity products would no longer meet the need for solving complex problems within an environment where technologies become more advanced and complex, and user needs more diverse. Competitive advantage will only be created through the development of innovative products, services and systems. Within the context of design education, today's challenge is to prepare future designers to operate efficiently and effectively in a design and development environment which is highly competitive, fluid and collaborative. This article discusses the potential of systems design to be implemented in a vertical studio teaching concept. A three-stage approach in the form of examples demonstrates how, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), an integrated studio teaching-mentorship has been adopted to prepare students early in their educational career for the design opportunities and challenges they will face after they have completed their studies. For the three-stage approach, the potential of adopting a vertical studio teaching concept is recommended, where curriculum amendments, course preparation, teamwork and the crafting of a detailed design assignment are crucial factors to determine its success. The results indicate the following: emphasis should be placed on strategic and systems design to facilitate innovation and the further development of design solutions beyond the studio environment; a pupil-mentorship programme should be developed to sustain collaboration beyond the studio; students need to be made aware of 'value chain alliances among collaborators' as a tool to achieve competitive advantage; the emerging need for cross-cultural design and manufacturing alliances should be reemphasised in the education of future designers.

Online publication date: Sun, 26-Jul-2009

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