People working and networking at Design Factory NZ

DFNZ for Students

What we offer

Design Factory NZ offers a wide range of learning experiences for both students seeking to prepare for the future workplace, and professionals looking for post-graduate study options for themselves and their teams.
These include:

Undergraduate learning

Design Factory 1 is our undergraduate programme that provides a problem-solving learning experience for level 7 students from across Wintec's centres. Students form multi-disciplinary teams and collaborate with an industry partner working to solve an industry-specific problem over 15 weeks. This culminates in a final presentation at our flagship gala, providing a comprehensive Design Thinking experience for our students.

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation is for those wanting to build on their enterprise experience with flexibility in time or place of study. Students gain skills and expertise highly valued by a workplace and research environment, including developing an understanding of transdisciplinary research and reframing of a real-world problem.
There are no formal classes in this course and students are guided through the programme by an academic lead supervisor and an industry mentor. Students are embedded in a community of practice, supported by supervision and mentorship, with access to a national and international network of researches. Students enrich their learning through regular seminars, presentations, extensive online resources and workshops.

Master of Applied Innovation provides deeper engagement with problem-solving in a real-world context. Students have a coached learning journey in both the theory and practice of innovation, with a relentless focus on application, value and practicality. Students coming from a range of academic and employment experience will work on an industry problem as the capstone project of their course, resulting in a detailed, high-fidelity practical solution to the industry problem.
As with the Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation, there are no formal classes and students are guided through the programme by an academic lead supervisor and an industry mentor. Students develop a research plan in the first part of the programme and spend at least 3 days a week in a business, working on the project. They are embedded in our community of practice, supported by supervision and mentorship, with access to a national and international network or researchers.

Design Factory NZ Student Learning 2019 10 30

Design Factory NZ Student Learning

Design Factory NZ Students Learning

Design Factory 1

Students are placed in multi-disciplinary teams, working alongside learners specialising in engineering, business, IT, sports & human performance, graphic design, media arts - and more. We provide industry partners (such as Opus International, Hamilton City Council, and Habitat for Humanity), who share one of their wicked problems with the student teams. 

And from there - it’s action!

Surrounded by our experienced coaches and facilitators, our students are taught the skills of co-creation, and guided in applying their new learning on their complex problem. Empathy interviews, customer journeys, ideation, prototyping, user-testing, collaboration - and a whole lot more. 

At the end of our fifteen week, 30-credit program, our student groups present their final proof-of-concept solutions at our Design Factory Gala - a celebration event featuring their industry partners, alumni, local business leaders and more.

Joining Design Factory provides students with a unique opportunity to work in new ways, prototype solutions to problems they will not have encountered in their studies - and develop their soft skills of creativity, empathy and communication - in preparation for the workplace of the future.

Hannah talks about her experience at Design Factory NZ alongside a diverse team of cross-disciplinary students as they find solutions for the Hamilton City Council.

Sarajane talks about her experience joining the Design Factory NZ and working alongside her teams client Genesis Energy.
Akhil is a mechanical engineering student and was one of our 2018 Design Factory NZ participants. 
Josh, a third-year IT student, shares why choosing Design Factory NZ was the best part of his Wintec study journey.

IT student Mohammed talks about why he chose Design Factory NZ to enhance his skill set for the workforce.

International IT student Erin talks about what makes Design Factory NZ great and why you should consider joining.


Frequently asked questions

What does DFNZ involve?

Wintec students from across all centres come together at DFNZ. Over 16 weeks, they learn processes for solving complex problems - which can be applied to any domain or practice. 

Students get put into groups, and we teach them how to solve complex problems faced in the workplace. This isn’t theoretical learning, but learning by solving a real-world problem, with a real-world industry partner. Students learn how to lead a group, how to interview others, how to create 100s of ideas, how to build and test an idea quickly, and how to sell solutions stakeholders. You form deep friendships, drink a lot of coffee, and have a lot of fun and hard-work along the way.

It also involves networking with Waikato business and community leaders, developing your emotional intelligence, navigating challenging scenarios, and gaining insights into how innovation works in the real world.

What are the benefits?

The core benefit of this course is students gaining the most in-demand skills the workplace is looking for. Graduates receive a qualification that gets them work-ready, and able to thrive in the workplace. 

Research has shown the in-demand skills employers are looking for. Number one is the ability to solve complex problems. Estimates suggest that in the next few years, one in three jobs will require complex problem solving as a core skill. Complex problem solving is exactly what we teach.

Any list of the most in-demand skills also features creativity, communication, leadership and team skills. We invest significant coaching to help you upskill in your personal leadership and development, and your ability to be a team leader, and a team-player. 

There’s a bunch of other benefits, too. You get 24/7 access to our dedicated work-space, unlimited free coffee, coaching from our awesome staff, opportunities to network with business leaders, and become part of the Design Factory Global Network - a family of 29 Design Factories around the world.

Are there any additional fees?
No, studying at the DFNZ does not occur any additional study cost for you. When you study with us, the Design Factory module replaces 30 credits of your degree programme that you would otherwise be studying. 
Can this fit around my other course times or does studying at the DFNZ put me a semester behind?
Yes, we run different streams of the Design Factory module, with a range of times to make sure this can fit with other courses as needed. There’s no additional time spent studying at all and you will earn 30 credits towards your degree.
What subjects will I be replacing DFNZ with?
This depends on what qualification you are currently studying. It would be best if you talked to your programme coordinator to identify which courses can be replaced by DFNZ. We have had students replace internships and other elective papers, but it all depends on what you’re currently studying.
Do employers look at DFNZ graduates?

Yes, studying with the DFNZ is a great way to get seen by employers. Our alumni have gone on to work at a range of cool businesses - from corporates like Genesis Energy, through to tech start-ups. Two of our alumni have gone on to study problem-solving further in Melbourne and China. 

Also, a big part of DFNZ is working with industry partners. Over the 16 weeks with us, you will have heaps of opportunities to network and get yourself in front of employers. 

How is DFNZ different to an internship?

An internship offers you a good opportunity to get experience in a workplace and learn more about how your skills fit in the real-world.

DFNZ, on the other hand, has a focus on teaching you problem-solving. This means you will be co-leading a project for an industry partner, seeking to bring about change for their organisation. You will learn leadership, problem-solving, communication, team-work, and creativity, which you might not get on an internship.

Additionally, DFNZ offers you world-class coaching from our DFNZ staff and connections to a wide alumni across the Wintec centres.

How much time does it take up in a week?
You spend 4 hours in a taught session, learning the process along with your teammates. You also have 4 hours in a coached session, where your group works together to solve the complex problem. We then expect a further 8 hours study a week to be completed outside of class which involves researching, interviewing, building, creating, and a whole lot more.