Brunel Fixperts exhibition took place on the 18th April, showcasing 16 projects, ranging from an ipad manual for a 93-year old deaf person, to a sheep snacker that distributes sheep food in equal intervals automatically, for a farmer in Leicestershire.
These projects engaged 102 first-year design students (BA Industrial Design and Technology, BSc Product Design, and BSc Product Design Engineering) at Brunel University, with support from Dr Hua Dong, Senior Lecturer, Rob Phillips, guest lecturer, and Daniel Charny, Fixperts Co Director. The project was run over a period of six weeks, and students worked in teams of 5-7, with fix partners from the local community or family/friends network.
A portable bike fixing station was developed for a local bicycle recycling business and used by its owner Nick
Among the 16 practical solutions, three have already been adopted by the fix partners, and received very positive feedback. Many solutions are in the process of being realized.
The students were enthusiastic about the project:
“This project taught me so much. One major thing was being immersed in the entire design process…from meeting the client, setting a goal, to developing a practical final solution. This will be invaluable in the future when needing to design a product from start to finish.”
“Very satisfied that we made a final finished product that we left with our fix partner. It is still working and it looks like there is a good opportunity to make it available to more farmers.”
Daniel Charny, Co Director of Fixperts attended the Brunel Fixperts exhibition on the 18th April 2013
The tutors thought fixperts was a great way of engaging students in problem-solving with people:
“Working with a fix partner, tackling with their specific daily challenges, made students realize the complexity of design and the value of design. Although many solutions were developed for a specific person, students realized that they could be used by a wider audience – a great way of appreciating inclusive design.”
Brunel First-year Design students worked in teams, and produced 16 fixperts project prototypes and films
As the “first independent Fixperts project” (quote, Daniel Charny), Brunel Fixperts has achieved great success, and we thank all the fix partners and people who have supported the project. We’d also like to share some insights with tutors who plan to run the project in the future:
Briefing stakeholders well in advance, giving them scope to identify fix partners and build trust
Introducing co-design and participatory design tools and techniques
Introducing ethics and tactics of working with people
Emphasizing practical solutions and outputs, not just conceptual design
Providing workshop access and facilities for realizing the solution
Providing travel funds if possible (to support working with fix partners)
Introducing film making tips and offering feedback in the interim
Organizing an exhibition for peer review and group input
Students presented their rigs, posters, films and the final solutions at the Brunel Fixperts exhibition
Dr Hua Dong is a Senior Lecturer in Design at Brunel University.