Product Design and Development (PDD) maintains and conditions the competitiveness of industrial activity related to goods production, which is everyday more global and more dependent on the fast integration capacity of continual scientific and technological development.
When FEUP decided to study the possibility of creation of new MSc and PhD degrees in Product Design and Development following a model of Project-Based Learning, it has been carried out a double study of the market comprising the analysis of:
a) Design programmes in Portugal in first, second and third cycles (Bologna) and
b) UP offer in the spectrum of Fine Arts - Design - Engineering, coordinated by FBAUP and FEUP.
This survey showed very clearly the nonexistence of an updated approach to PDD at third cycle level, as well as an inadequate approach to it of the second cycle level offer, mainly if we consider the most recent theoretical developments in scientific areas of Design, Engineering and Management, which emphasise the need of very interdisciplinary approaches.
This overall picture pointed out the necessity of strengthening the UP offer of post-graduate education in Design, with programmes capable of attracting national and foreign students who have had basic training in other institutions, as well as professionals seeking for high level qualification.
One of the approaches to reach this objective is the consideration of present greater ease of mobility of students and teachers, more than ever in Europe, mainly supported by Erasmus program, providing us with the opportunity to consider international partnerships with other institutions of proven experience in some critical areas of the curriculum. We will capitalize on this to grant our offer real scientific excellence on a broad range of matters.
FEUP approach to PDD
Nowadays, PDD requires a strong capacity for cooperation between Management, Design and Engineering. In many cases, it also requires the need to coordinate research and development in universities, institutes and technological centres with company business dynamics and strategies, within national or international highly qualified teams.
FEUP has a consolidated activity of project development and connection to industrial field, as well as expertise in some the scientific areas involved, particularly in undergraduate, master and doctoral degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Management and Industrial Design. In addition, FEUP maintains deep collaboration with Technological Institutes on the Campus, such as IDMEC, INEGI and INESC, making easier to establish join initiatives.
The experience accumulated over a decade of operation of the Master Degree in Industrial Design (public/private model), and the three years association with the program EDAM MIT Portugal (where partnerships with IST and University of Minho, in addition to links to the Department of Systems Engineering of MIT, have been strengthened) is now important to the new approach.
We must also consider that the establishment of the DESIGN Studio FEUP as a transversal infrastructure to support "Project-Based Learning” (PBL) initiatives allowed FEUP to build unique conditions to be a leader institution in this area of education in Portugal, being able to offer the market an integrated and structured sequence of post graduate studies in PDD.
The existence of several research units with an international rating of Very Good and Excellent (FCT standards) and the participation of researchers from FEUP in id+ (Research Unit on Design, Media and Culture, a joint initiative of the University of Porto and the University of Aveiro, which focuses its activity in reducing the symbolic deficit of Portuguese products, systems or services) under a logic of sustainability and user enhancement, are also important factors for theoretical foundation, support of the curriculum structure and doctoral ability to supervise dissertations in the future.
FEUP extensively based its MSc and PhD Product Design and Development proposal on prior teaching experience and applied research led by faculty members, who have been involved in several design courses over the past ten years (from public secondary school programmes, to University and Polytechnic BSc and MSc), making possible to identify some of the more important factors to guarantee the success of professional outcomes and student engagement in this project.
According to University of Porto recommendations, Master and Doctoral Programs shall, whenever possible, start full-running only after a one-year trial edition in the form of Specialization Course and Course of Advanced Studies, respectively.
Following these directives, the Specialization Course and the Course of Advanced Studies in PDD (PBL) have already been accredited by the Rectory of the University of Porto, and will start running in September 2010 for the academic year 2010-2011.
After the necessary accreditation from the agency A3ES (which will be meanwhile requested), it is expected that the programmes could become Master and Doctoral Program in the academic year 2011-2012. Students who enrol in 2010 will be able to simply continue their Master or Doctoral Degree by getting equivalences of the Courses already finished, without any delay.
Product Design and Development (Project Based Learning) MSc and PhD
The programmatic base supporting these MSc and PhD in PDD is the practical evidence that Product Development is a cooperative activity located at the intersection of three cultures: Engineering, Design and Management. These scientific areas deal with the three main goals that any product seeks: Viability (economic viability), Feasibility (materialization potential) and Desirability (attractiveness).
These three vectors are nothing more than an expression of the response to the needs of human values supporting their use, business demands and technology constraints.As a matter of fact we do believe that, Engineers, Managers and Designers contribute to ensure the product “values” and each of them cares for different ones. Engineers challenge Feasibility and Performance; Managers seek for Economical Viability and Profitability and Designers for Usability and Meaning.
Moreover, the approach that FEUP aims to implement is based also on a particular humanistic view of Product Design, that we call "enginium design", which can be characterized by the intersection of four guiding values: Primacy of the User, Cooperative Development, Appropriate Technology and Local Scale Sustainability.
We must also emphasise that both MSc and PhD programmes follow Project-Based Learning methods, with a very flexible modular structure, where the Central leading course is Project and the other ones are articulated around it, assuming, whenever possible, joint evaluations based on practical results.
The first year of the program (with a total of 60 ECTS) will be divided in two semesters. The first semester will be dedicated to the contextualization of Product Design and Development practice and project and the second semester will be marked by the introduction of a course about research in PDD [Research Approaching], each one with 3 ECTS.
The remaining 54 ECTS correspond to the main core of the students work under a Project Based Learning system. In each semester the courses dealing with Management, Design and Engineering will converge in a unified Project Development course integrating the practical application of information from the three scientific areas.
In the second semester, Project Pack II will consolidate the project approach, addressing research and subjects of greater complexity and extension. It will be coordinated with the courses: From Design to Business [Management], Product Detail Design [Design] and Digital 3D [Engineering].
Projects in Project Pack I and Project Pack II will be of three types: short (1 to 2 weeks), medium (3 to 4 weeks) and long projects (more than 5 weeks), chaining themselves and overlapping in order to prepare the students for hard project time management, providing him with important skills for their future professional life.
The assessment, which takes 6 out of 20 weeks per semester (leaving 14 weeks for teaching) will be disseminated depending on ongoing projects and will allow, via planned interruption of classes, proper and deeper preparation of requested submissions.
The second year will be dedicated to a more extended overview of higher-level aspects of Product Design Development (3rd Semester), and to drafting and developing the grade dissertation (4th Semester).
On third semester, students must choose one from three different specializations:
The first one - Product Design (typically for students with a background in Design) is intended to prepare the students to work as “designers” on product concept development aspects of the cooperative multidisciplinary tasks in a new product development.
The second one - Product Development (typically for students with a background in Engineering) is intended to prepare the students to work as “engineers” on product technical development aspects of the cooperative multidisciplinary tasks in a new product development.
The third one - Design Development (for any of the backgrounds) is somewhat different from the previous and intends to deal with aspects of design and development less dependent of market and business and more aimed at human development strategies particular low ecological impact solutions or international aid situations and cooperation programs with humanitarian NGOs. This branch is also a national opportunity due to the need of Portuguese help in some Africa and East countries (Mozambique , Timor, etc)
Different courses will be offered for each one:
Product Design courses: [Product Semantics] and [Ergonomics and Interface];
Product Development courses: [Systematic Methods for Product Development] and [Product Validation]
Design and Development courses [Appropriate Technology] and [Local Development].
A third course [Sustainability] will be common to the three branches. At the same time students will begin to prepare the MSc dissertation, task to which will be assigned a weight of 12 ECTS under the Course Graduation Project.
We hope that the possibility of establishing partnerships with three international schools will be a fundamental approach to strength the second year Syllabus and to give particular “identity” to above described 3 branches. Classes are expected to take place mainly at Design Studio FEUP and may have the participation of visiting teachers from cooperating institutions. A strong cooperation with industry is foreseen.
[Note: The students who choose the mobility model among participating Universities should follow abroad, at this third Semester, a study plan agreed between the host institution, the candidate and the director of the master degree, consisting of total 30 ECTS - 18 obtained by course attendance, the remaining 12 being dedicated to dissertation planning or project preparation].
On fourth semester the students will devote themselves exclusively to prepare the dissertation, corresponding to the remaining 30 ECTS of the curriculum.
The Master thesis, typically developed at FEUP and whenever possible with a external partner (company, industry, NGO, etc), can be oriented (and/or co-oriented) either by teachers from FEUP or from one partner University, particularly in the case of students who had been abroad on a mobility program and have started their work there.
Doctoral Program in Product Design and Development (PhD PDD)
The Doctoral Program in PDD is based on the same conceptual cooperative basis that has been proposed to second cycle training: the need to understand and practice a cooperative approach between Design, Engineer and Management.
On the other hand, the Doctoral Program in PDD will also have a strong research and Project Development component connected to society and will aim to create and spread new knowledge and good practices for companies.
Ideally, all the Program attendants must already have or establish during the first year a link with a company that is faced with a specific Product Design and Development problem and will therefore engage and participate on the research / development process.
The project / dissertation, as in all PhD studies, naturally occupies a key part of the Doctoral Programme syllabus.
During the first and second semesters the students will attend two courses aiming the enhancement of research skills: Research Project (part I: 9 and part II: 12 ECTS), and during the second semester, a course on Research Methodology (6 ECTS). Those courses are intended to help students to prepare and launch the draft of their thesis to be developed full time during the following two years (third, fourth, fifth and sixth semesters, total of 120 ECTS).
The remaining 30 ECTS, to complete the 180 needed to obtain the grade after Bologna, will be distributed by three thematic optional courses in first semester and two free optional courses in the second semester.
The three optional courses (first semester) have to be chosen from pre-defined sets dealing with Management, Design and Engineering (one of each group) and aim to enhance students' knowledge in these 3 main areas, reinforcing the cooperative central approach that is the basis of this program.
[Students with prior scientific training in one of these areas will be given a special curriculum with two courses in one of the two other areas]
The two optional free courses (second semester) will be chosen from the list of courses offered by the University of Porto and aim to provide specific additional knowledge for the development of each student the ongoing project.
In the case of candidates who enrol the Doctoral Program without having the Master PDD, it is strongly suggested that the suitable optional topics is chosen from the Master in PDD curriculum; providing a consistent body of knowledge for the remaining training.
Also for this purpose, the generic introductory course Product Design Development (3 ECTS, also common to the Master in PDD curriculum) is included in the first semester.
The choice of optional topics depends on the interests of the student, as well as on the support and approval of the Doctoral Program advisory board - prior experience of the candidate and prospects for research and industry links that the theme of the thesis might embrace will be taken in account.
To emphasize the cooperative spirit that characterizes this Program, a special effort will be made to incorporate representatives of partner Universities (to be defined) in the board of doctorates dealing with thesis proposal evaluation.
Given the possibility of classes taught by foreign teachers, the mastery of this language is essential to their attendance. To facilitate exchange, allow the presence of foreign students, and permit the choice of supervisors or co-supervisors of master's and doctoral thesis coming from other universities, it is accepted that thesis could be done in Portuguese or in English.