Design researchers acknowledge five trends of the industrial design practice that emerge from the changing global environment: (1) emerging new technology increases the use of digital media; (2) the boundary between design disciplines is fuzzy; (3) there is a need for multidisciplinary teamwork; (4) there is a movement trend from individual product to systems; (5) there is an increasing dependence on online resources. The main goal of this project is to tech and learn design the above mentioned trends and to train engineering students transversal skills on real industrial cases of new product development (NPD) provided by industrial partners to foster the cooperation between the students, academia and industry. Besides, updates and developments are being carried out on the design methodology and its application in design education accordingly.
The project proposes 3 consecutive but unique and independent, industrial oriented courses of NPD in virtual environment; each will be organized by one of project partners in collaboration of all others. The collaboration will include state-of-the-art lectures given concurrently and interactively to students of all involved universities using professional video-conferencing equipment. Students’ project activities will represent the practice in course; students will work on NPD assignment given by selected industrial partner. The project purposefully focuses on industry-academia type of projects to enable partners to link higher education, research and business. Students will be organized in international, multi-disciplinary virtual teams; this will already give a multi-cultural and cross-border character for student activities. The project results will be finalized and presented in the frame of events connected to blended short-term mobility of the students.
The focus of the research and development activities in the project is to upgrade the design education practice in the virtual environment will be on the design methodology (including ICT tools) and the implementation and application of the methodology into design education practice. To reach this goal three significant intellectual outputs are proposed: (1) a cutting-edge design methodology based on best practices and extensive research and development activities, (2) a complex resource of teaching/learning materials on the basis of NPD developments and updates and also the experiences from the student projects, and (3) a study on the application of NPD methods, challenges and impacts. The three major intellectual outputs will be propagated in three big scale multiplier events, one in each project year: a (1) public seminar, a (2) panel discussion, and an (3) open day, respectively. Those events will enable partners to invite experts for discussion, also press and media will provide high publicity. Project meetings (e.g. trans-national project meetings) will be scheduled around the same periods. Dissemination will not be restricted to multiplier events; research, development and also student project results and outcomes will be published periodically via a variety of mediums, while the main platform will be the project website. The scientific results will be presented in conferences or published as scientific journal papers.
In three years we expect 120 design and engineering students, more than 12 professors and teachers, and 5-10 industrial professionals, and many external partners will bond professional ties – all in all around 150 people – for future collaboration in professional, academic and also private spheres of their lives.
Although project is being carried out in virtual environment between the partners (which is already a great achievement of virtual mobility and the extensive use of ICT), the cross-border co-operation is enriched by student and staff mobility, which eventually will strengthen the quality of research and teaching quality and result in an increased learning experience.
The participating students will develop competences of 21st century engineers thus will be able to address challenges effectively when performing the NPD process in virtual world. They will be able to use methods and tools of the latest computer technologies and be able to achieve seamless human-technology interaction on the highest level. Participating university staff will acquire new knowledge on new technologies as well. The developed intellectual outputs will serve as a comprehensive resource of information for further research and design methodology development and improvements for several years after the project ends. We also expect long-term multiplying effect on scientific contribution in form of conference and professional, peer-reviewed papers. All project partners will use this project and its outputs as a role model for new projects in the future, including also other academic and industrial partners and to form a wider network of industry-academia partnership which will cooperate on various levels.