Why should engineering students care about Industrial Design?

Winegard Visiting Lectureship 2013

Wednesday, October 24, 2013 | 2:00 to 4:00pm | BA 1130

Michael F. Ashby, CBE, PhD, FRS, FREng
Royal Society Research Professor
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

Most students of Engineering or of Materials Science are attracted by the systematic, analytical rigor of their subject. To them the word “Design” means “provision of function in ways that are safe, reliable and affordable;” the language of Industrial Design carries little meaning or sense. Yet successful products depend as much of provision of usability and satisfaction as provision of function. Failure to understand the role and importance of the Industrial Designer is failure to engage fully with the mission of Engineering.

Courses that combine the approaches of Engineering and Industrial Design exist, and are very successful. But most large engineering programs do not take this approach and already have curricula that are so full that inflating them with further new courses is out of the question. So the challenge: how to inform students in large, 1st year Engineering courses, of the meaning, role and importance of Industrial Design in a single lecture?

This talk is (a little adapted) the single 1st year lecture that has been used in the Engineering Department at Cambridge to give students some insight into the ways in which aesthetics, associations and perceived character contribute to the desirability of products.