Student News : Young designers rise to Dyson Foundation challenge at Bournemouth University

Young Academic has learnt that representatives from the James Dyson Foundation have given Bournemouth University students a fascinating insight into the development of new and unique products during a one-day innovation workshop. This is great student news for Bournemouth University and a whole host of other institutions as Dyson look to visit many more colleges and share their wisdom.

The Foundation, an educational charity linked to Dyson Ltd, supports science, design and engineering education. Each year Dyson design engineers and scientists visit universities, colleges and schools across the UK to share their design expertise with enthusiastic young people. Workshops give students a hands-on opportunity to try some of the methods key to Dyson’s creative force including teamwork, sketching to communicate ideas and simple 3D modeling.

Design Engineer Thomas Blower, Head of Environmental Projects at Dyson Limited and Danya Walker from the James Dyson Foundation put the 40-plus students of Design Engineering and Product Design through a fast-paced exercise that challenged them to create and make their own rapid prototypes. Working in small groups, the students were given different themes on which to focus their talents – from games and toys to transport and public buildings.

Each group had just one and a half hours to turn sheets of corrugated cardboard and parts of real Dyson products brought from the company’s development headquarters in Wiltshire into non-working 3D products. Each creation needed to be feature an application involving a sucking or blowing action that could power an accessory like a turbine or a fan using an existing Dyson product.

Blower sees this as an invaluable exercise for these future design professionals as it challenges them to work outside their normal comfort zones and push their creative talents to extremes without abandoning to the fundamental principles of good design.

“Design is about understanding, learning and trialling so this exercise gives the students a firsthand opportunity to test different things, decide what needs improving and experience different modelling techniques to help them create better products in the future,” said Blower. “Creativity is the most important thing. It’s about challenging their preconceptions. They don’t have the time to sit and research they just have to be instantly creative so you see this kind of crazy, eccentric design attitude in each group as they try and get through to some of their more novel ideas very quickly.

“This is the starting point for any project which is really about idea generation,” Blower concluded. “Even for their major projects, this is what they would have to do at the very start.”

For the students, the experience of working on a project set by Dyson gaining feedback from one of the company’s leading designers proved invaluable.

David Moore, a first year student on the BSc (Hons) in Design Engineering felt he learned a great deal listening to Dyson about the use of materials, how they go about prototyping, idea generation and development.  He also enjoyed the group dynamics of working so intensively to produce an air purification system called the Dyson ‘Breeze’ which Blower awarded first prize out of the all of the products developed as part of the workshop. Given the theme of public spaces, David and his teammates brainstormed the idea within half an hour and came up with an extraction filter which removes smoke from a shopping centre, for example, and return clean air to the same space. The product incorporated elements of Dyson’s cyclone suction technology normally associated with home vacuum cleaners.

“It’s always interesting to work in a group and brainstorm to see what ideas come out, what you throw out , what you keep and what you go with within the time constraints and other constraints you might have,” said David. “The prototyping has been particularly interesting with the use of cardboard and other Dyson bits.”

Teammate James Ritter, a second year student on the BSc (Hons) in Design Visualisation agreed that the workshop had been exceptional. “We’ve had a really good insight into how Dyson work and I’ve enjoyed meeting and working with people from other courses,” said James.

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