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There’s a real buzz in the air at Design Factory NZ

Grace Davies and David Fielden from Hauraki District Council with Design Factory NZ students

Grace Davies and David Fielden from Hauraki District Council (far right) with their Wintec Design Factory NZ student team (L to R) Isabell Duengler, Michael Dutton, Harshil Manji, Serafina Chen (absent team members are Amy Middleton and Harry Bryant).

Increasing youth engagement in local government and dealing with waste left behind after major events, are just two of the problem-solving challenges Wintec’s Design Factory NZ students are working on this semester.   

The Wintec students have signed up for a different type of learning. They originally enrolled at Wintec to study various disciplines, but here, they’ll work together, solve problems and come up with solutions as a team. Not unlike a real-world workplace.

Two years ago, Wintec launched Design Factory NZ with 12 students. Now, the roll has increased to 33 students for the current semester and it’s taught in two separate streams. The students come from a range of disciplines including fashion, engineering, sports science, education, IT and management.

“It’s amazing to see how this has grown from a pilot programme to a multi-stream class,” says Design Factory NZ Director, Margi Moore.

“Having more than thirty students deeply engaged with real-world challenges puts a real buzz in the air.”

The 33 students are working in six teams with industry problems provided by four external partners: Hamilton City Council, Genesis Energy, Xtreme Zero Waste and Hauraki District Council over 16 weeks.

Their large-scale, complex problems benefit from cross-disciplinary design-thinking and problem-solving from creative thinkers outside the organisation.

Hollie Blanchard is in her third year of a Communications degree with Wintec’s School of Media Arts and this year she took the opportunity to add the Design Factory experience to her learning.

“I joined the Design Factory because I wanted to work with real-life clients on real projects, and put this knowledge and learning into action,” says Hollie.

“I’m enjoying working with others towards an end goal. I have felt very welcomed into the class by my tutors and peers, as we learn more about ways of problem solving and the design thinking process.”  

The student teams are now working closely with their respective industry partners, and recently, they hosted their first industry breakfast. They were also tasked with the planning, hosting, catering and design of the event.

“We hosted 70 staff, industry partners, alumni and students for breakfast. It was a morning full of energy, innovation and connections,” says Margi.

“The students use their developed skills to present, start dialogue and even organise the event – all skills that are valuable in developing and presenting ideas in the workplace.”

Design Factory NZ has more than twenty students pre-enrolled for the next semester at Wintec and is looking forward to welcoming more participants for the upcoming challenges.

Design Factory NZ is part of a Design Factory Global Network (DFGN) a network of innovation hubs based in research institutes and universities across the globe. DFGN is on a mission to create change in the world of learning and research through passion-based culture and effective problem solving.

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