Professional Practice within Ph.D. Study
Dr. Mark Evans, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design Department of Design and Technology | Loughborough University, UK
As designers make the career transition from practitioner to educator, it is all too easy to loose the core competencies of professional practice as the contrasting role of the academic takes over. This can be compounded by a requirement of institutions to focus nonteaching activity on research and, possibly, attaining a Ph.D. However, this progression may not necessarily be in the best interests of students, where emerging skills and knowledge are most effectively developed through the direct demonstration of technique, critique, and modification of designs through drawing and provision of practice-based case study material that has been undertaken by the tutor.
This paper explores the nature of master’s and Ph.D. study in design and identifies the development of a methodology for a Ph.D. that enabled the researcher to be actively involved in the industrial design of four consumer products. The key outcomes of this strategy were that professional skills and knowledge were maintained and extensive material made available for undergraduate and masters teaching. These outcomes were not regarded as a consequence of the research activity, but very much at its core, being orchestrated through a perceived need to maintain professional skills and knowledge and make a full contribution to the quality and relevance of student learning.