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Are you curious and imaginative? Do you like problem-solving? Would you enjoy creating solutions that improve the quality of people’s lives? Then product design and technology might be the course for you.
What is product design and technology?
Product design is the design of products and systems that enhance people’s lives, such as a diabetes monitor or an underwater search and rescue system. The areas within which product designers work is extensive, ranging from digital product development to innovative medical device design to user experience design.
In recent years, industries are recognising the positive impact design can have on both business and society, opening up new roles for design led thinkers.
Why Study Product Design and Technology at UL?
Product Design and Technology (PDT) is a learning environment that cultivates exploration and creativity. Here design students are challenged to question norms and create innovative solutions that positively affect future life experiences. Our values lie in human-centred, responsible and collaborative approaches with technological know-how.
60% of the learning takes place in a studio-based environment through hands-on practical projects. Purpose built workshops and visualisation labs along with experienced design lectures and technical staff support the students learning.
Our strong links with industry and community partners, along with an 8-month industrial placement, offers our students real-world experience during their programme of study, ensuring they are best placed for employment upon graduating. Opportunities to study abroad are extensive due to our network of partners across Europe, India and the US.
During four years of design education, students design products and services across a broad range of themes and subjects including digital technologies, healthcare and well-being, consumer electronics, sustainability, social impact, as well as user experience. International guest lecturers, masterclasses and field trips are also part of the curriculum to ensure a comprehensive learning experience.
PDT has had multiple design award winners in competitions such as The Dyson Award, The Universal Design Challenge, The IDI Awards, The Enterprise Ireland Entrepreneur Awards, and The Undergrad Awards.
Product Design and Technology is an internationally recognised degree - accredited by the Institution of Engineering Designers, UK.
The Product Design and Technology course structure is built around a design studio based approach, with complementary subjects run in parallel such as; ergonomics, psychology, manufacturing, engineering, management, and entrepreneurship.
Design studio compromises the core element of the programme, where students focus on basic skills acquisition in year 1, development of thinking tools, visualisation skills, CAD, user-centred design research, and design in context in year 2.
Design fluency and refinement are honed during the first semester of year 3 followed by an opportunity in the second semester for students to study abroad or undertake an 8-month work placement.
In year 4 students work in teams with an industry partner over an intense 6 week period, followed by an individual Design Project – a self-selected design brief focused on any area of personal interest.
|Year 1||Semester 1||Semester 2||Summer|
|PD4101||Design Studio 1||PD4012||Design Studio 2|
|ME4121||Engineering Science 1||MT4932||Materials for Design|
|PN4111||Introduction to Materials Processing||PT4112||Manufacturing Technology 2|
|MT4101||Introduction to Materials Science||ID4112||Design Mechanics|
|Year 2||Semester 3||Semester 4||Summer|
|PD4043||Design Studio 3||PD4044||Design Studio 4|
|PD4003||Ergonomics Foundations||PD4004||Design Visualisation|
|PD4023||Design Research & Specification||MF4756||Product Design and Modelling|
|MA4701||Technological Mathematics 1||PD4124||Contemporary Design Culture|
|Year 3||Semester 5||Semester 6||Summer|
|PD4105||Design Studio 5 (Industry)||Cooperative Education|
|PD4115||Design Studio 6 (Community)||or|
|PD4026||Design Ergonomics||Study Abroad|
|PD4024||Design for Environmental Sustainability|
|PD4005||Advanced Modelling of Form|
|Year 4||Semester 7||Semester 8||Summer|
|PD4017||Design Project 1||PD4018||Design Project 2|
|PD4027||Human Factors in Design||IE4248||Project Planning and Control|
|PT4427||Design For Manufacture||MF4728||Occupational Psychology|
Applicants are required to hold at the time of enrolment the established Leaving Certificate (or an approved equivalent) with a minimum of six subjects which must include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English.
In addition, applicants must hold a minimum grade O3/H7 in Mathematics and grade O4/H7 in any one of the following: Applied Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Physics with Chemistry, Engineering, Design & Communication Graphics/Technical Drawing, Technology, Computer Science, Construction Studies, Agricultural Science, Biology.
A Special Mathematics Examination (Higher Level) will be offered at UL following the Leaving Certificate results for those students who did not achieve the Mathematics requirement.
We welcome applications from mature students. Mature applicants must apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) by 1 February.
As of 2019 all applicants (School Leavers and Mature) to the BSc. Product Design + Technology at UL must submit a digital portfolio or a mini project and written statement for assessment. These submissions must be used to demonstrate the applicants’ APTITUDE for, and INTEREST in Product Design. Portfolio submission details will be selected to suit the CAO application schedule. You can see more details and examples of portfolios on the LM076 webpage.
Mini Project: If you do not have enough work to include in your Portfolio, perhaps try the Mini Project. This year's design brief.
Portfolio Entry Deadline: Portfolios must be emailed as a PDF document to firstname.lastname@example.org before 5pm on 19th April 2020.
The document name must include your CAO number and full name. For Example - 18999999_David_Smith.pdf
You will receive feedback through the Admissions Office in UL within 2 weeks to confirm whether you have passed or failed the portfolio review. Example of Entry Portfolios.
Recent graduates of PDT have followed careers in a wide variety of fields including;
- design consultancy
- lighting and furniture
- biomedical design
- user experience design
- computer-aided design
- toy design
- sports products
- assistive technologies
- start-up companies
- design research
- environmental design
- interactive design
- design strategy and management
Recent graduates are working for employers such as Dolmen Design, Stryker Instruments, Johnson & Johnson, Valeo, Wazp, Cartamundi, and Logitech.
Our PDT graduates have excellent creative skills, a capacity for innovation and deep technical knowledge which could lead to research opportunities with our Design Factors research group. Check out www.designfactors.ie for samples of the research projects undertaken.
Graduates might also opt for postgraduate study in related UL courses such as MSc. Design for Health and Wellbeing.
My initial draw to UL was the intriguing product design studio. At the open day, I was enthralled by the exciting studio environment, with busy students sketching, prototyping and photographing concepts.
The practical elements of sketching, model-making and prototype testing are complimented by a learned ability to create digitally through apps like Photoshop or Illustrator to CAD modelling on Solidworks. I thoroughly enjoy our Design Studio modules, where we, the students, have a large amount of creative control and can a guide a project in whatever direction we’re interested in. In terms of technology, we have 3D printers, CNC machines and a laser cutter at our disposal, which are working non-stop developing prototypes.
A hugely rewarding element of product design is that by your third year, you’ll have a portfolio of work to an industry standard. This is brilliant for students, as it differentiates us from other courses, where we have a physical, tangible output at the end of every project.
In second semester of third year, I did a four-month internship with Circular Design Europe in Barcelona. I worked on a team of students from all around the globe, creating sustainable solutions for international clients. I can safely say it was the best few months of my life, with some unforgettable experiences. We’re blessed in UL to have this opportunity to travel and it’s genuinely the most enriching thing you could do.
As a child I loved playing with Lego, and spent endless hours in my dad’s garage building all sorts of crazy contraptions. At secondary school, I really enjoyed subjects like Technology, Tech Drawing and History so my careers advisor directed me towards Product Design & Technology here at the University of Limerick. The course is incredibly broad, and educates you on field research, concept generation, concept development, prototyping /model making, 3D Modelling, design for manufacture, and the creation of marketing material for your new innovative products. As a student on this course, you will receive an incredible amount of mentoring from the lecturers, who spend endless hours in the studio, offering constructive criticism on your work. As part of a relatively small course of 50 to 60 students, you will make some great friends.
In 4th year, you will develop your own product as part of your final year design project, in an area of interest to you. It is a lot easier to commit to designing a product that you believe in. As a trained pool lifeguard and a medic with the army reserve, I felt there was a fatal flaw in lifejacket design. Current lifejackets keep users afloat but fail to protect against hypothermia. In the research stage of my project, I got to go out and meet the men and women of the rescue services - people who risk their lives every day in the hope of saving the lives of others. They were incredibly generous with their time and resources, and I loved listening to their stories, recording pain points on existing designs and examining their equipment that they use, which included the Air Sea Rescue Helicopter. As a result, I came up with a new design – a three-piece lifejacket that mitigates the effects of cold water shock, sea spray, hypothermia and secondary drowning.
As a graduate of the Product Design course at UL, my product Hydros was shortlisted in the top 20 in the world in the James Dyson Awards. I also received awards from the Irish Design Institute Ireland, the Nexus Innovation Centre, and a €2000 summer research bursary at the University of Limerick. Since graduating, I have set up my own design consultancy Norm Design, where I complete graphic and product design projects. I am currently working on commercialising my final year design project. Product Design and Technology at the University of Limerick is a great course; if you work hard and believe in yourself, the design world is yours for the taking!
Since graduating from PD&T course at UL, I have worked in many different areas of product design. The creative skill set that I acquired meant that I was very much at ease with slotting in to various roles. The design process that you learn over the 4 years is mirrored in real world projects and it becomes second nature by the time you graduate. The different design projects that I worked on gave me a broad range of skills that are now invaluable in my everyday working life. Employers look for creative graduates with a good understanding of manufacturing and the technical aspect of this course at UL gives it a big advantage over many design courses at other universities.
For me, one of the best experiences from my time at UL was the opportunity to work in industry. I chose to work abroad in the Netherlands. You quickly realise that the skills you have learned from the course are exactly those that you use on a daily basis. The experience of working in a professional environment really helps in preparing you for life after college and also looks good on your CV. While on work placement, I was constantly using all the relevant computer-aided design applications and this meant I was well prepared for when I returned to UL for my final year project. My project was a summary of everything I learned during my time in UL and it was a really rewarding experience. At the end of the academic year, we were encouraged by our lecturers to enter our projects into the James Dyson Design award, which is a very prestigious competition. I designed the Flo2w oxygen delivery system and my invention was lucky enough to make it into the last 15 in the global final of the competition. For me, this success has been a tremendous spring board towards many different career prospects. I look back on my time at UL as a huge development path, both on a personal and professional level.
James currently works as Creative Director at NT-MDT Service & Logistics Ltd
Since graduating from this course I have been working as an R&D Design Engineer for one of the world’s largest medical device companies. I’m based in the structural heart division where we work on heart valve replacement systems. I have been nominated by my company for the Graduate Employee of the Year award.
During my time in UL, my Final Year Project (FYP) won two national awards. The PD&T degree gave me so much of the practical skills I use on a daily basis. After graduation, this course gives you a useful and real world approach to problem solving, engineering and design by using practical tools and skills that are recognised as the standard in industry today.