Gripping and flipping at the ID PhD Day

Every so often it is healthy to have a time out and reflect on what you are doing and where you are heading.
The Industrial Design Engineering faculty (IO) took an in depth look at its research arm last Thursday June 16 during their PhD day.

Mentors and PhDs gathered to discuss current research and its possible future directions.

Ena Voute, Dean of IO, started proceedings in the main hall by opening the Get a Grip exhibition displaying nine prototypes of research work in progress. Get a Grip was an appetizer followed by a swarm of ideas discussed at the Flip the Faculty debate held in the i.d-kafee coffee bar. Boris Eisenbart, assistant professor in

Design Theory and Methodology, moderated the discussion by a panel of eight volunteer PhDs before an audience of around 30, including mentors. Illustrator André Weenink drew cartoons of the issues thrown up in the debate, which were beamed onto a screen behind the panel in real time.

The panel discussed their research in the context of the field of design and questioned the role of design itself. PhD researcher Abhigyan Singh signalled an individualist bias holding design research back, saying design can benefit from other broad societal disciplines such as sociology and anthropology. PhD researcher Mafalda Casais stressed that design research can be valuable to other academic fields, with designers as change agents mediating research and development of technologies. PhD researcher Holly Harris finds the relationship with business partners can bring many benefits such as access to resources but the relationship should be carefully managed as it can shape the nature of research.

At the faculty level, PhD researcher Marian Loth said more collaboration between IO departments is valuable and desirable. Though most of the panel felt generally well supported in their PhD roles, more weight should be given to providing tools for research project management and managing academic and business partnering, as well as cross cultural skills when doing research abroad.

After so much self-analysis, PhD researcher Ricardo Mejia Sarmiento’s reminder about the strengths of an IO designer to imagine and visualise concepts and actually make stuff, was a fitting close to the session.

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