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Design students make their mark

Antony Perry

9 May 2017: When E29@UC, a co-working space designed to foster the growth of entrepreneurs, opened at the University of Canberra last month, three budding industrial designers witnessed the fruit of their labour.

The tables at which members of Canberra’s start-up community sat as they began working on turning their ideas into reality were the work of Grace Maguire, Nicholas Jones and Sharon Lok.

The Bachelor of Industrial Design students were commissioned by Entry 29, Canberra’s biggest start-up community, to create 10 tables for the new satellite space on campus.

“It was a great being able to do this while we’re still studying,” Mr Jones said.

“The challenge is finding casual work that fits with university and personal commitments, but this was spot on because it was paid work and complementary to our studies.”

The job had all the elements of a real-life assignment, providing the students with an opportunity to gain experience in delivering a project to a deadline before they enter the workforce.

Ms Lok said the process, while sometimes arduous, required the students to use their entire skillset.

“There were elements of digital fabrication as well as hand work,” Ms Lok said. “The process of cutting the timber took about an hour and a half followed by a lot of hand sanding.

“The fact that it was a real-life job and not an assignment made it an exciting project to be part of.”

University staff member and alumnus Sam Tomkins supervised the project. He said it was a good way for students to apply their knowledge to a project similar to ones they’ll be undertaking as qualified industrial designers.

“The team we put together to complete the task performed really well together,” Mr Tomkins said.

“We’re always looking to give our students hands-on work experience to best prepare them for life after university and this project was just that.

“From the client’s brief right down to the deadline, this project exposed students to the kind of work that awaits them.”

E29@UC marks the first step in Entry 29’s expansion beyond its primary site at the Canberra Innovation Network in the city. The University’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Deep Saini, welcomed the move.

“This initiative is part of the University’s enhanced focus on student entrepreneurship,” Professor Saini said.

“It will serve as a great opportunity for students to workshop their ideas and launch business ventures, hopefully even before finishing their degree.”

Read more about the opening of E29@UC.