DIT hosts International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education

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05 September 2013:  DIT hosts the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE) this week in its Bolton Street campus, welcoming over 300 delegates from thirty countries.  Professor Larry Leifer, founding director of the Centre for Design Research at Stanford University, is the keynote speaker.

Organised by the School of Manufacturing & Design Engineering in DIT, the theme of the conference focuses on the importance of design education in the context of the current economic situation in Ireland and in Europe.  John Lawlor, Head of Engagement in the College of Engineering and Built Environment, said careful consideration was given to choosing the theme for this conference which is Design Education - Growing Our Future. “Design is an approach to problem-solving that can drive innovation in products, services and processes for the public and private sectors as well as society by integrating the needs of the users.  As educators, we are convinced that design and creativity in engineering and product design education will be the key driver in this strategic goal.  Over 270 excellent contributions were received, exploring the full depth and diversity of the conference theme.”

Dr. Professor Larry Leifer, who will deliver the keynote address at the E&PDE Conference, is Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design at Stanford University. A student of design himself, he has instigated many design initiatives at Stanford including the Smart-Product Design Program, Stanford-VA Rehabilitation Engineering Center, Stanford Learning Laboratory, and most recently the Center for Design Research (CDR).

The E&PDE conference was initiated in 1999. It provides a forum for industry, policy-makers, and educators and researchers in product development, engineering and industrial design, to discuss current developments in design, and the future direction of design education. 

According to John Lawlor, by hosting the E&PDE conference, DIT has an opportunity to showcase the design programmes offered in the School of Manufacturing and Design Engineering, and in other disciplines, and to demonstrate its contribution to design and innovation.  “Innovation policy across Europe is undergoing a paradigm shift. Whereas previously innovation policy was technology-focused and R&D-driven, now the scope of innovation policy has broadened to include service, user-centred and social innovation. Design has a crucial role to play in this broader concept of innovation. Design can act as the bridge between technological, service, user-centred and social innovation because at its core design is a human-centred process. We as designers can develop methodologies and generate the will to overcome these barriers to ensure that good design is embedded into our thinking and our application.”

Ireland today employs 205,700 people directly in manufacturing and 400,000 people across all skills levels when indirect employment is taken into account. It is an integral part of Ireland’s economic fabric, is a key driver of innovation, is a crucial player in Ireland’s return to export-led growth and contributes to employment across all skills levels and in all regions throughout the country.

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