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Check it out: University of Canterbury’s new School of Product Design

Top image: Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods plays an immersive virtual reality (VR) car racing game at the opening of the School of Product Design.

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods opened the new school, part of UC’s College of Engineering, in late March. In her speech, she spoke about the growing importance of combining the arts and creative sectors with science, engineering and business to put New Zealand products on the world stage in a rapidly changing environment, and how important it is for industry to support the new School, its current students and future graduates.

The only university offering Product Design degrees in the South Island, UC has welcomed 140 new students into the first intake of Product Design degree courses this year. The new students join growing numbers in the College of Engineering, with an increase in enrolments across all the five UC this year – so much so, in fact, that enrolments from New Zealand school leavers has exceeded pre-2011 earthquake levels.

A brand new degree programme two years in the making, the School of Product Design offers majors in Industrial Product Design, Applied Immersive Game Design, and Chemical, Natural and Healthcare Product Formulation. It combines Science and Engineering (50 percent), Creative Design (33 percent) and Business (17 percent) courses.

From left to right are: Head of the School of Product Design, Professor Conan Fee, University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Dr Rodd Carr, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods, and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the College of Engineering Professor Jan Evans-Freeman at the official opening of the University’s new School of Product Design.

The head of the new school, Professor Conan Fee, says the degree programme is aimed at producing “creative, technically savvy graduates who are business-ready.” As he says: “It is important to understand that product designers do not simply add the window dressing, the artistic surface coating to make a functional product look attractive, but rather they engage in the entire process of problem-solving.

“The fastest growing degree at UC, this has captured the imagination of new students who want to apply their creativity in ways that will generate new wealth and social outcomes for New Zealand.”

For example, the Chemical, Natural & Healthcare Product Formulation programme is unique in the Southern Hemisphere, Fee says, and leads to career paths in a growth area, with household products a trillion-dollar industry sector globally, creating everything from weedkillers to lipsticks.

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