The course is structured around the real case study of Light.Touch.Matters, a four year interdisciplinary research project that brought together designers and materials scientists to work on developing a new material and suitable applications for it. The course takes students through the experience, problems and outcomes of this project, with a view to giving them experience of working in an interdisciplinary, collaborative research environment.

Who is this course for?

Design Practitioners & Researchers: This course is primarily intended for materials researchers and design practitioners embarking together on design-led materials research projects.

Students & Teachers: This course can also be used as resource to give students a realistic understanding of the many benefits and difficulties of interdisciplinary working.

This is done through the lens of a case study of one particular design-led materials research project. Each section of the course is designed to structure a conversation between a materials researcher and a designer. These sections can be used for role-play conversations between science and engineering students (e.g. chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, electronic engineering) - playing the materials researcher - and arts students (e.g. fine art, industrial design, industrial engineering and architecture) – playing the designer. These conversations should be enacted over several contact sessions, with the cohort arranged into pairs or small groups that are composed of students from different disciplines.

The course does not carry credits or require formal deliverables, but following it will simulate the experience of being involved in an interdisciplinary research project. This experience of working across disciplines will be an asset for aspiring engineers and designers, who will find the skills learnt in this course invaluable for working and doing research in an interconnected world.

By the end of the course the participants will gain an understanding of:

  • The differences in approach to materials that are typically taken by designers and materials scientists.
  • Some effective techniques to build relationships, understanding, and knowledge in a team containing designers and materials scientists and engineers.
  • The types of research methodologies used to develop new materials: who uses them, their relationship to each other and how they can influence the progress of a project.
  • The importance and role of materials and hands-on demonstration in communicating materials properties.
  • The importance and role of prototypes in communicating design attributes of materials.