- 14 March 2023
- 5 minutes
Now she uses design thinking methods she learnt at RCA every day to help reimagine the future of the automotive industry.
You left your job as a software developer to study MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering at the RCA. What prompted that decision and what drew you to this programme in particular?
My prior experiences working in various sectors of the technology industry taught me that technology, while powerful, is not a one-stop shop for all the world's problems. It was through these experiences that I came to appreciate the value of design as a complementary approach to problem-solving. This realisation led me to seek out a programme that would integrate design and technology in a holistic manner.
“Joining IDE was the spark that ignited my passion for design and technology and set me on a path to make a real impact in the world.”MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering alumni
Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) stood out as one of the few programs that saw technology as a tool to enhance design, and focused on building effective multidisciplinary teams. This approach allowed me to tackle the 'why' early on, instead of creating products that become obsolete as soon as they hit the market. Joining IDE was the spark that ignited my passion for design and technology and set me on a path to make a real impact in the world.
How did the programme help you to refocus your career?
On IDE, I discovered my passion for combining design and technology to create powerful tools for solving problems and identifying future innovation opportunities. The programme gave me the courage to embrace this passion and provided me with the tools and techniques to bring it to life.
I learned that technology can be used as a design tool to gain early insights and maximise impact. IDE helped to develop my skills, including the ability to fluently translate between tech and design, navigate teams in times of ambiguity, identify the right problem to solve and recognise when it can't be solved solely by bringing a product to the market.
“IDE helped to develop my skills, including the ability to fluently translate between tech and design, navigate teams in times of ambiguity, identify the right problem to solve and recognise when it can't be solved solely by bringing a product to the market.”MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering
The programme also exposed me to a dynamic community of incredibly talented designers, thinkers, and innovators who continue to shape me as a creative.
IDE is a joint programme with Imperial College London, what were the benefits of this?
The short walk from the RCA to Imperial allows for easy access to state-of-the-art science and technology, giving students the opportunity to explore cutting-edge research and meet with some of the brightest minds in the field. The ability to switch between the artistic and scientific environments at the RCA and Imperial College is truly humbling and enriches the IDE experience.
“The ability to switch between the artistic and scientific environments at the RCA and Imperial College is truly humbling and enriches the IDE experience.”MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering
For your graduate project you created a rapid prototyping tool for textiles. What was the motivation behind this project?
Coming from a background in electrical and software engineering, I have always been passionate about understanding highly technical processes and finding ways to make them accessible to designers and makers as prototyping tools. Spindle started with the thought, “How might we facilitate material innovation?”
Spindle is a rapid prototyping tool that enables textile innovators to rapidly create nonwoven fabric using 3D printing.
The field of rapid prototyping is constantly evolving and designers and makers are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with tools like additive manufacturing. However, the exploration of new materials is often limited by the complexity and difficulty of the processes involved. With Spindle, I aim to change that by making it easy for textile innovators to experiment and prototype quickly.
What would the future look like if prototyping with new materials was as easy as replacing 3D printer filaments?
You also worked on a group project Fallback, designing a device to provide access to news during internet shutdowns. What was the experience like of working on this project?
This project is incredibly close to my heart, as it addresses a pressing issue that is currently happening in real-time: the Iranian government's use of Internet Shutdowns to suppress protests and quell a revolution. In a world where access to information is crucial, many are left without a window into their own situation, relying on external sources of credible news to stay informed. News is the voice of the suppressed, shining a light on the human rights violations and bloodshed happening in communities experiencing Internet Shutdowns.
“As a team of four individuals from different countries, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, we were united in our passion for human rights and our shared experience of suppression.”MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering
As a team of four individuals from different countries, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, we were united in our passion for human rights and our shared experience of suppression. Our project was a delicate undertaking, and we were determined to not obscure the reality of the situation for those experiencing human rights violations. We began with extensive research, attending protests and talking to academics and those who had personally experienced Internet Shutdowns.
Designing for extreme situations makes for an inclusive outcome. This project was truly a powerful reminder of the impact that design can have on real-world issues and the ability of individuals to make a difference.
You now work for the Ford Human Centred Design Lab as a Senior Software Designer. How did your time at the RCA prepare you for this role?
On IDE, we're on a mission to design innovative solutions to real-world problems by striking the perfect balance between desirability, feasibility, and viability. Our secret weapon? Design thinking. We use it as our recipe book, diving into research, ideating, prototyping, and iterating to come up with game-changing ideas.
At D-Ford, we're taking this approach by putting humans at the centre of everything we do. We start each project with in-depth user research to understand the needs, hopes and fears of our customers. Then, we let our imaginations run wild, creating and testing different solutions until we find the perfect fit. We're not afraid to be scrappy and "make to learn" – constantly thinking, communicating, and testing to stay ahead of the curve.
“I start with research, bring my expertise in digital and technology to the ideation phase, and dive headfirst into prototyping. It's a lot like the approach we take at IDE, and it's making a real impact in the automotive industry.”MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering
In my role at D-Ford, I'm fully immersed in the design process from the get-go. I start with research, bring my expertise in digital and technology to the ideation phase, and dive headfirst into prototyping. It's a lot like the approach we take at IDE, and it's making a real impact in the automotive industry.
The industry is undergoing a major disruption with the rise of electrification, charging infrastructure, connectivity, and digital transformation. As a century-old company, Ford is facing the challenge of transforming from a hardware-focused company to one that puts a lifelong relationship with customers at its core.
At D-Ford, we're working to reimagine the future and reduce the risk of future investments for Ford by bringing together a team of provocative designers with the company's century-worth of knowledge and expertise. It's an exciting time to be a part of this transformation!