Life as a Product Design Student

by Matt Richardson on April 20, 2009

As a design student there are a plethora of various things to look out for. Choosing the right University for your studies is of course one of the major ones and one that I am going to write about in this new series.

In the UK, University entry is typically through UCAS, a UK central organization through which applications are processed for entry to higher education. This is the most useful service to you and it can help make sure that you can select the right University. It has a wealth of information that will allow you to compare various universities and also holds all of their contact information if you wish to contact them.

When selecting which design course to go for, you can then research entry requirements, making sure that are on track to get the right amount of UCAS points to achieve the University entry place.

In relation to design courses, a wide range now wish to see your portfolio if you are asked to attend an interview. This is one of the most important things that will follow you for your design life. It is an extension of yourself and it should always be close to hand, whether in hard copy or in digital copy. Tips on your portfolio will be getting discussed later on. For my University interview I had to present a portfolio and collating it was not easy.

However, primarily you will have to be given the interview and this is may be based on your personal statement. Including your love for design is an obvious inclusion within your personal statement, and if you have any other branches that relate to design, these are obviously worthy of being included.

Having attended your interview and been given a place in the desired university, you eagerly await the start of your first semester. You are almost certainly going to have other aspects of University that you have to set up, but what can you expect in the design sphere?

The University that I attend is a well known one in the North West of England and has a very reputable design school within it. The first week of study was basically getting to know your peers and this involved some logic games and tests. However in terms of design we did have one or two simple projects. One project was looking at a product and then replicating it out of wire to make a wire model. The other project was to make a plane that could hold an egg and then take off and land without breaking the egg.

These were really simple tasks, yet got us into the mind set for the course. One particular moment that I remembered though was what the Course Leader told us. In relation to the plane project, he said that we should start thinking outside of the box. All of us made models that were free flight, i.e. models that we threw and then watched (and then had to repair as they crashed horribly.) However our lecturer said that we should have put fish hooks on the model then used string or a line and sent the model down that. It wasn’t in the rules that we couldn’t. It would have worked perfectly, and it would have been a design piece. This gave us the impetus to think outside of the box and to stretch our minds.

Continued in part 2: Getting Yourself Noticed as a Product Designer

About the author – Matt Richardson is currently a student at the University of Central Lancashire. He is currently looking for a placement and is also behind Eminar Design Co. For a sample of Matt’s work have a look at his portfolio

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