Tom White chose Product Design at LSBU for its practical mix of engineering and art

“When I was choosing a university, LSBU didn’t try to hard-sell me. Their approach was: ‘This is what we offer and we believe we’re really good at it. If that seems like the right fit for you, we’d love to have you.’ I felt they were interested in me and my development.”

London is one of the great innovative cities of the world.

I’m from Norwich, which is a very homogenous cultural environment, and I wanted exposure to a mix of thinking, styles and cultures. That’s why I chose LSBU. In terms of placements, job prospects and industry links, it’s a great place to study.

I applied for several Product Design courses through UCAS. At LSBU my main point of contact was a lecturer, and he stayed in email contact with me throughout the application process. That coloured my choice of university.

LSBU’s Product Design course is both technical and creative.

I originally planned to study film but I knew I would miss the physical element of making something. At LSBU Product Design is an engineering course with an art degree element to it. It’s very hands-on and 100% coursework-based. It involves making things and also marketing them, with the option to explore different avenues—like film.

The course involves theory, like colour theory and form, but always in the context of a project. To learn about ergonomics, for example, we were given a brief to design a product for someone with dementia or arthritis.

The projects usually involve making a 3D model. The workshops here are world class: you can work in foam, wood, there are 3D printers and so on. Some projects involve making a video to showcase the product—this is a video of a bicycle we made.

About 70% of the projects involve group work, where we learn from each other’s skills. I’m arts-focused; others are stronger at graphic-design or numbers. We learn from each other.

The course has a real-world approach to learning.

University is much more collaborative than school. LSBU lecturers treat you like colleagues; their aim is to get you to their level. You learn by doing. Most of my lecturers have worked in industry and compete in competitions, so they impart current knowledge of the real world. They challenge my work and we negotiate to find solutions. The course tries to replicate industry as much as possible and the university emphasises employability.

Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been industry-linked. In my first year a toy manufacturer wanted a product and opened the competition to students. It involved a business case, marketing and design. We were part of the winning team. So in the first year at university I had already influenced something in the real world.

I spent my third year at a university of applied sciences and art in Switzerland.

The best thing about it was meeting people from all over the world, studying a range of subjects. That really expanded my worldview.

After graduation I’ll look at corporate graduate schemes, which are very competitive. There are a lot of opportunities in the field of User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)—we do a module on that in the course. Lots of people go into graphic design.

I’ve heard employers saying they love LSBU product designers because we haven’t just learned to do the art, we’ve learned the manufacturing methods behind it.

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