An exercise in symbiosis: Undergraduate designers and a company product development team working together

Howard Denton, Deana McDonagh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The paper presents an exercise in which a manufacturer and industrial design undergraduates worked together in developing 'blue-sky' concepts. The aim was for students to experience working with a product development team from the company. The company in return wanted this team to be exposed to initial concept development work normally done external to this team in a separate design department. Hence the symbiosis. The exercise was different from many similar exercises in that it was run out of term and students had to apply and compete for a limited number of places. Students were placed in small design teams and worked collaboratively over an intense three-day period. The exercise was evaluated by staff observation, student feedback questionnaires and questions to the company staff. The discussion concludes that there are significant advantages to operating concentrated design project work, whether it is team- or individually-based. Such techniques effectively use Hawthorne-type effects to boost motivation. Students rise to the challenge, outputs are good in terms of ideas and the positive experience for students. However, it is recommended that such projects should not be conducted too frequently due to the intensity for both staff and students. The company product development team benefited from involvement with the concept development phase of design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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