From the 2nd to the 6th of April, our first year Product Design apprentices played hosts and partners to a group of fourteen students from the Dutch school of Engineering and Design in Windesheim.
The language barrier was quickly overcome, for students and staff alike, as Sue Allouche and David Balkwill (both British) were joined by Anne van der Graaf and Jeroen van Tongeren making everyone slip into more or less fluent English. Not surprisingly, the Dutch students took the lead here, but by the time Anne had set the ball rolling with some "icebreaking" exercises, there were already groups forming and conversation was buzzing.
Sue had prepared a brief for the week, asking the students to work on brand extension and to develop ideas for innovative packaging in a new field for one of four major French marques. Choices were quickly made and the teams of four, which then turned into teams of two, worked through the week, leading up to a formal presentation and exhibition of their work.
Three industrial visits were organised during the week taking the Dutch students to SCA (a leading packaging company with an in house design team), and then on to Saint Nazaire to see Airbus (incredible sights of sections of planes right up to the giant A380), and STX (where even small sections of the ships would dwarf the largest aircraft).
The sun shone all week, catching some fair skinned visitors by surprise, and leading to a succession of invitations between the students to evening barbecues. We got a good feeling that they were enjoying this busy week!
Looking back, it was a challenging project for both French and Dutch students, with little time for them to form teams and to figure out how to work together; but they all dived in with no hesitation and made a great job building their design proposals.
We’ll be heading back to Windesheim in October with our apprentices. Who knows if the weather will be as friendly, but we are all sure that we will have a warm welcome.