UWE adopts Innovation Kit to inspire design thinking among engineering students

Bristol-based software development company Newicon took 20 months to develop the unique training tool

The University of the West of England (UWE) has adopted a brand-new Innovation Kit for its engineering cohort, striving to embed design thinking into the student culture.

Developed by Bristol-based software company Newicon, the kit comprises a complete ‘innovation system’ developed in line with the proven design methodologies of industry heavyweights such as Google, IDEO and Stanford. The resource is viewed as a practical and pragmatic innovation guide based around Newicon’s 15 years of experience and testing.

The kit includes a set of engaging workshops, exercises and tools to not only help students learn, but also implement, design thinking principles without having to dedicate years to mastering the theory.

The initial idea came from partnerships with large corporations such as Airbus – the world’s largest airline manufacturer – who depend on design engineering and are constantly adapting their innovation procedures.

Newicon is currently working alongside UWE to tailor the Kit to meet specific student needs, conducting a series of workshops and staff training sessions to ensure that aspiring engineers learn the best and most current industry design practices. The company is also offering remote design thinking workshops and training for businesses who can benefit from the Kit’s ability to function remotely.

UWE’s 2020-21 engineering student cohort will be first to use the Innovation Kit, COVID-19 permitting. On top of delivering the conventions of design thinking, the institution hopes the resource will boost student performance in their Engineers Without Borders programme. In 2019, the programme sought to solve social and civic challenges by driving positive change among communities in Johannesburg, South Africa. This year, students will be tackling an equally impactful social challenge.

In related news: Jisc announces free resources for FE colleges

“Newicon embodies the kind of company we want to partner with. We have a comprehensive programme of professional practice to develop students’ skills in the context of engineering problems,” said Lisa Brodie, head of UWE’s School of Engineering.

“UWE Bristol are investing in a multimillion-pound purpose-built School of Engineering opening in Autumn 2020; alongside this we have a revolutionary, redesigned curriculum that nurtures creativity, innovation and collaboration through training on ‘live’ projects and problems. Newicon’s approach to design thinking and innovation is the ideal partner for our new curriculum. They will equip our student engineers with practical tools and knowledge in order to succeed in their chosen engineering career.

“We like working with Newicon because they challenge the way we do things. We know our students will like their approach and they play an important role in supporting the school’s mission and growth.”

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