Designing Collaborations at the Intersection of Academia and Industry

Martin Skelly, Fraser Bruce, Richard Banks, Helene Steiner

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Since the Bauhaus, industry and product design education have been intrinsically linked. A century later, industry collaborations still form a major component in product design education. In 2016, the opportunity arose for around 50 undergraduate students studying both Product and Digital Interaction Design (BSc) at the University of Dundee to take part in the 2016 Microsoft Research Design Expo. This global student competition challenged the students to explore ‘Symbiosis and the Conversational User Interface (CUI)’. Over the course of an 11-week semester, the students were divided into nine inter-disciplinary teams with one team later selected to disseminate their project at the annual Microsoft Faculty Summit conference in Seattle, USA. Through semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a sample of students, tutors and industry advisors, data was gathered to determine the influence of this collaboration on the total learning experience of all participants. In this paper, we briefly describe the background and context of the project before presenting a sample of student work. The paper then goes on to consider; the tension between competition and collaboration both within a team setting and the wider studio dynamic; how students interpret and incorporate input from both academic tutors and industry advisors; and the role prototypes play in the communication of ideas and concepts during the early stages of the design process. Reflecting on the major relationships and behaviours that all participants need to display, the paper concludes with a series of recommendations that we believe are essential for the design and delivery of future collaborative projects between industry and academia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBuilding Community: Design Education for a Sustainable Future
    Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
    EditorsArild Berg, Erik Bohemia, Lyndon Buck, Tore Gulden, Ahmed Kovacevic, Nenad Pavel
    Place of PublicationGlasgow
    PublisherThe Design Society
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Electronic)9781904670841
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventThe 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway
    Duration: 7 Sept 20178 Sept 2017

    Publication series



    ConferenceThe 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
    Abbreviated titleE and EPDE 2017
    Internet address


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