Recession drives necessary change for auto design courses

COVENTRY UNIVERSITY’S School of Art and Design has always been acknowledged for its innovativeness and industry leading standards, as was highlighted last year when the Vice Chancellor, Professor Madeleine Atkins, received the prestigious Queen’s Prize for Higher and Further Education from Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace on behalf of the auto design course.

However, it also recognises that in the current recession, it has to do more to train and help its students to secure employment upon graduation, focussing efforts on helping students secure practical and work-based professional experience so that they can add value to employers with restricted budgets.

The University also recognises that, with climate change, the transport industry also has to change, as has been highlighted over the course of the last 12 months with many manufacturers introducing ‘eco’ novel models.  Sustainability, energy saving, carbon reduction and the ‘green’ agenda are all now key to shaping a successful future for the industry.

Jostin's Microcab vehicle has received support and finance from Coventry University in recent times

In light of this, a number of decisions have since been taken and has resulted in the University embarking upon a major consultation and review of its courses to ensure that it is best placed to address these issues and to better equip its graduates for today’s challenges.

Throughout  February, it ran an ‘experts forum’ with senior managers in the industry to review and recommend changes to its current courses, and recently appointed John Jostins, who developed the Microcab (above), a latter-day rickshaw powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Alongside Geoff Upex – a Coventry graduate and former Design Director of Land Rover – both will bring relevant practice, development and research into the department.  This means that from September 2009, the automotive design courses offered by the School will change.

They will continue to embrace the Art and Design ethos of learning through doing and making, and will provide students with practical and user-based experience from the day they start at Coventry, working in teams on projects – ideally with partners, including Jaguar and Land Rover

The focus will be on pure design and drawing, stimulating creative thinking and helping to reshape the industries it is hoped graduates will lead.

Commenting on the changes, Professor Jill Journeaux, the Dean of the School of Art and Design, said: “We are very excited about our plans for industrial design.  They build upon the strong reputation that our courses already enjoy yet ensure that they reflect the needs of students and employers today and tomorrow.

“In particular, they provide more practical experience to our students and real opportunities for businesses to maintain their development and research programmes at a difficult time – and both are bound to benefit as a result.”



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