Design awareness is apparent as manufacturers throughout the world increasingly recognizing design practices as an essential competitive advantage. This global change has driven the popularity of design degrees as new generations of students flood classrooms, eager to learn all the necessary skills that will hopefully launch their fruitful careers.
Early student development in cross-collaboration mentorship programs is essential in training students for the careers of tomorrow. The reality is that many college students would be flattered by such interest and any company would be foolish not to invest in these low-cost exploration programs that can be used to solve legitimate business problems. The faster the students learn to work on a professional level the better the designer they become.
Here’s the story of my recent mentorship program:
Philadelphia University recognizes what is needed in the global marketplace and has tailored their industrial design program around what will make their students successful; understanding how to solve real word business problems as early as possible in the curriculum.
The school is active in seeking companies to mentor students in a co-sponsored collaboration programs that benefits both the student and organization. A few of my colleagues and I recently took the college up on their offer and completed a 13 week mentoring project with about 25 Industrial Design students.
We had a blast spending one-on-one time with students, critiquing their work, and helping them take their projects further. We gave them a crash course on the type of products we make and had great conversations about how technology and product development plays a vital role in the future of our business.
After these early discussion the students broke into a phase called the “Sprint Project” where the Junior class leads sophomore and freshmen students on a one week, extremely fast paced exploration process to uncover possible future development outlets for our business.
Here is a video of that portion:
After this fist week, the Juniors separated from the other class levels to reflect on the projects. They were soon sent off with narrower project scopes on a 12 week journey conducting research, ideation, and concept development. In the end six different teams each presented a concept that they believed would be beneficial for our company to develop further
The entire experience was outstanding. The students were a delight to work with and they were so enthusiastic to be working with us. Both their demeanor and work was completely professional, but what I liked the most from the project was the fresh and insightful outlook the students brought to the table. In the end, the collaboration was a chance to not only help develop a student’s education, but also spend time working on riskier projects the company might not have otherwise taken.
Please reach out to me if you are interested in working with Philadelphia University or if you have questions about the specifics of the program. I would be more than willing to offer some advice if you don’t have a mentorship program setup, but currently thinking about one. I’ve learned quite a lot from the experience and have a few pointers to share.
Bradley Derry is an industrial designer and creative team leader whose specialty is to strengthen a company’s capability to delight customers through its product design and brand building. He currently leads a product development team at Innovative Office Products, a premier manufacture of workspace systems and furniture accessories in the Lehigh Valley, Pa. Be sure to visit his site BradleyDerry.com for post updates and connect with him on twitter @Derryest.