Fostering Ingenuity through Product Design and Development
Every single product you use — from the mobile device you are likely reading this on to the tooth brush you clean your teeth with or the bed you sleep on — is designed by someone. With a recently revised curriculum that is design-driven and engineering-assisted, Centennial College’s Product Design and Development program is turning students into well-rounded creators of the next generation of products.
“There is a huge demand for industrial designers,” says the program’s coordinator, Luciano Lorenzatti. “There are always items that change — kitchen gadgets, furniture, toys, cars — you name it. Our program is a unique merger between the School of Communications, Media, Arts and Design and the School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science. That’s really valuable to graduates because they become familiar with the entire product design and product development process — from problem identification and conceptualization to design and production.”
Starting this September, students will experience a curriculum designed to be better aligned with industry needs. That’s because extensive research and a restructured Program Advisory Committee (PAC) — a group of professionals hand-selected by Centennial to help guide the program — have resulted in new courses and various other alterations.
“Besides our PAC members, who come from 12 different sectors, shaping the program, there is going to be great interaction between Product Design and Development students and PAC members,” says Lorenzatti. “We are adding new courses on topics such as designing for accessibility and materials exploration, for example. We hope to team up with local organizations such as March of Dimes (which provides wide-ranging services to people with disabilities), so students can create products for their participants. We will also deepen design thinking and methodology, and there will be more sketching and ideation techniques.”
Because product design and development is at the intersection of art and engineering, students benefit from attending two of Centennial’s locations. At the Story Arts Centre, they are immersed in a highly creative learning environment, where they innovatively problem solve, come up with ideas, draw and make models. Meanwhile, the science-focused Progress Campus is home to lab spaces where students bring their products to life using industry-standard equipment.
“It’s important to remember how all-encompassing product design and development is,” says Lorenzatti. “A designer might say a crane is pretty ugly, while an engineer would just care about the crane solving the problem. An industrial designer merges the two disciplines by considering everything from aesthetics to user experience to sustainability to product lifecycle. By using laddered learning in the relevant learning environments, our students are at an advantage when they graduate.”
Until health officials consider it safe for Toronto’s post-secondary students to fully return to campus learning, the Product Design and Development program is being facilitated almost entirely online — with the exception of a first-semester 3D Studio class and the sixth-semester Capstone Project. The delivery, says Lorenzatti, also has its own unique set of benefits. For example, because demos are recorded, students may return to them as many times as needed to fully retain the information. This, he says, is another example of how well-rounded the Product Design and Development program is.
“We are shaping industrial designers who combine ingenuity with an understanding that a product is successful only when it is manufactured and people use it,” he says.
By: Izabela Szydlo