This is what I wrote to the 4th year students. Let us call it the 3+3+2 post. Okay?

The 4 year Industrial Design Program is a progression in 3 stages: The Lower Pool, The Upper Pool and the Premajor/Major.

The Lower Pool: The first stage lasts for three semesters. In this period the student leaves behind the ways of the school- chiefly strategic learning, or learning by guessing what the teacher wants – and begins the process of developing her/his creativity and problem solving skills. And also the crucial skills of communication and realising their thinking in material form. Students in this phase talk of the idea of design they came into uni with – and how it had all changed. In this phase design studies takes you through the realms of: Cultural Amplification, then Networks-Rhizomes-communities and finally with Sustainability. In this phase Chijoff got to make his now famous car in semester two CAD – and he went on to win the 6K prize for best model from VACC. Students leave this stage competent – and eager to challenge themselves in the hurly burly of the upper pool studios.

The Upper Pool: The second stage lasts three semesters. Uni assumes the student is accomplished and ready to take the plunge into a host of design situations. In this stage the student faces options – many studios, many electives and then the opportunity to study abroad. This is unique to RMIT Industrial Design – and demonstrates that the uni has faith in the student and trusts her/him to construct their own meaning of design. A meaning that is unique- and that may include studios in Architecture, Interior, Landscape Arch or Fashion. Will Golding pushed himself to do do an Interior design studio then a SIAL studio and then took himself off on an RMIT-Japan stint. This semester we have added ‘invitational’ studios in this stage: Catalyst is doing the Knog studio – and by all accounts students are getting a taste of ‘product design’ and being pushed for it; also Cobalt Niche is doing the Tram Elective – and that has its own excited students’ cohort. Students in this phase talk of being wise with their choice of three studios; and Rob E talked of how Mick’s studio changed everything for him. And how he knows & is clear he does not want to do designs of things. This is a stage of self discovery above all – who am I and what am I excited about in the world of design. At the end of this stage students are ready to leave behind their search and exploration of the different kinds of pathways that exist for the practice of design. They are willing to embark on their own and unique construction of the meaning of design, and what they will continue as their unique contribution to the profession. This sounds hugely arrogant – but then that is the uniqueness of the RMIT program. Its about you in a fundamental way and everything else is second.

The PreMajor/ Major: The last stage is of two semesters. This is the stage of Mastery, this is the stage where the student leaves behind their groping for meanings and reliance on the tutor to tell them what to do. Where they leave behind their role playing as ‘I am at Uni, and its not my responsibility’ to move on to ‘if I am given one chance to show off my capability here is what I will do’. This stage is crucially about Individual Self Reliance and the ability of each individual to get totally excited about a project they have dreamed up. In that sense this is also the stage at which the student has to address issues of core competencies and their ability to perform as independent designers. Where they are not REACTIVE but fundamentally CREATIVE. Where they do not wait to be told what to do but have a contribution to make – because they know how things ought to be, or are irritated by the way things are and wish to make a change. Seen from the outside the students in this stage look driven, excited and hungering for a chance for making radical innovations. They propose, they reflect, and they execute systematically. They have taken in this way a shot at seeing themselves function as leaders. They have realised their true potential and become ready to put their design education behind. (( In this stage some will choose to do their own thing with minimal interference from staff (Katherine is doing Design for Development and is very self sufficient, Maria produces magical things in boxes and is away doing her thing) – but equally students choose to work in a studio mode with staff. So the Diabetes groups is one such. Will there be a furniture option/ studio in 4th year? Its yours to ask and our to accommodate. Will there be a Knog one for Carl – let him ask I will go and follow it up. Right now the Knog lot are shattered at how much time teaching took. So they are resting.))

I am pushing you to look back – to see the different stages in your evolution, in your education in the program. I am asking for you to reflect, for you to cut free and be true to yourself. I am asking you to take charge. I am asking you to see the uni as that forrest, that wave, that city and that terrain; upon which you explore; upon which you test yourself, where you find yourself; and ultimately which makes you uniquely robust, clear and motivated. I am asking you to see the topology of the program in this way – three stages – and in that way I am asking you to see your growth thru the program as containing these three stages.

And in this will be a tremendous validation of your self worth. So be true, be honest and give it your all.

By Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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