Preparing Product Design students for working in the global production environment through practical learning

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Conference Proceeding
DS 69: Proceedings of E&PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London, UK, 08.-09.09. 2011, 2011, pp. 752 - 757
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Universities have identified the internationalisation of the curriculum as an integral part of higher education. The aim is to prepare students to perform professionally and socially in the global work environment. This ability has been described as ‘cultural intelligence’, enabling graduates to work positively and productively within culturally diverse work situations that may be very different to those they experience locally. In practical terms this involves engaging students and staff in international based experiences that allow for the exchange of expertise and cultural norms to enhance a common understanding of attitudes and behaviours affecting professional and social practices. In product design there is a discipline specific necessity to effectively communicate complex object ideas, detailed 3D specifications and aesthetic information with clients and manufacturers around the world and work collaboratively to ensure that the integrity of the design is maintained throughout its development. This may involve the designers going overseas but frequently it involves communicating via the web. This paper documents practical examples of introducing students to working with international partners (in this case manufacturers). It describes the commissioning of prototypes from a range of overseas suppliers by product design students, in different materials and using different processes. The student experiences and product outcomes are evaluated, identifying issues and implications for designing learning experiences, leading to practical recommendations on preparing the students to operate successfully in collaboration with overseas prototype production partners. The aim is to provide a contribution to the internationalisation of the design curriculum supporting the development of the ‘cultural intelligence’ of the graduate for global professional practice.
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