This month, we’re celebrating student creativity! We spoke to Sophie from the University of Birmingham Design Society, which is open to everyone, regardless of whether you’re a novice in design or a design pro. Design is for everyone that loves to be creative and the Adobe Digital Edge Awards celebrate game-changing student projects that use Creative Cloud to take uni work to the next level. Did you know, you can enter your work to be in the chance of winning two top awards of £9,250 in cash, with six runners-up winning £1,000?
Hype: Hey UoB Design Society, how are you? Please could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and the society?
TDS: Hi there! My name’s Sophie Davis, a 2nd year BEng Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham. I took over as president of the CAD (Computer Aided Design) society in 2021, shortly rebranding to ‘The Design Society’ to run workshops and competitions with a more creative theme in mind. We teach our members how to create technical sketches and design innovative products, as well as supporting them with learning Fusion 360. We work closely with the university and the new makerspace, a buzzing machine hub complete with 3D printers, milling machines and even a robot dog! The committee are in the process of completing full training for this equipment before we can give priority access to our members. The focus of our society is the semesterly design competitions as I felt it was important to have a goal to work towards whilst learning these new skills.
Hype: What are some of the areas of design that the society explores?
TDS: We explore many aspects of design, each workshop we focus on a different design movement (I think we’ve done De Stijl a few times as my personal favourite!). I run tutorials where our members can choose from a selection of products to sketch and render. We are grateful to be sponsored by Autodesk who provide sketch markers and professional drawing equipment.
Hype: Are all the students in the society in design related degrees, or are there some in other degrees?
TDS: Our members are on a whole range of degrees, from Computer Science to English Literature I believe that our rebranding has attracted different types of students as we encompass the entire design cycle, from idea generation through to 3D printing. Previously most members were Engineering students such as myself.
Hype: Is there one skill you’ve personally been working on really hard whilst being a part of the society?
TDS: I would say that confidence is the most important skill I’ve been working on. Running workshops has taken a lot of learning to ensure they are purposeful, engaging and at the right difficulty level. Nowadays I run them more like tutorials which I feel have a very comfortable vibe, I will be sketching a product and giving tips whilst everyone gets the chance to work on their own designs, asking for help from me or my committee if they need. I feel much more relaxed this way as I can focus on my drawing and have a chat, I don’t like feeling like a lecturer!
Hype: What kind of events and workshops do you guys put on and have you got any fun ones coming up?
TDS: We run sketching and Fusion 360 workshops weekly. However, our next big event is the Semester 2 Design Competition which closes mid-May. Our members submit a rendered sketch as well as a Fusion 360 3D model of a product they have designed throughout our workshops. I love seeing everyone’s submissions and it’s great to give back to our members with prizes for their hard work.
Hype: In your society, you’ve mentioned that you’ve got access to a 3D printer. That’s so cool! What amazing things have been created in the society using the 3D printer?
TDS: Unfortunately, due to Covid and delayed building of the new makerspace we have only just regained access to the 3D printers, however as the CAD society we printed drone bodies designed by our members and kitted them out to turn them into functioning drones. We will be printing our design competition winners’ product (small scale of course!) for the first time this semester and I’m excited to show our members how their designs can come to life rapidly with the use of technology.
Hype: One of the ultimate design questions, what is your favourite Adobe Creative Suite programme to use?
TDS: I love Illustrator for creating artwork and design ideas, however I won’t be the first to admit I do default back to Photoshop sometimes. The look of vector artwork is so satisfying, and I’ve ended up filling the whole house with my Illustrator designs!
Hype: What advice would you give to a student wanting to explore Design, but in a typically non-design related degree?
TDS: The great thing about design is that it is so versatile, every degree will require some aspect of it. If you’re interested in exploring design, you can find plenty of resources online. I watched YouTube videos to learn how to use Fusion 360 (which is free for students if you haven’t downloaded it yet!) and create technical sketches. If you’re interested in a career in design, you can find plenty of job opportunities that don’t require a design-related degree, I have found that Engineering especially seems to open lots of doors in the creative industry. If you’re interested in a placement start messaging companies you feel aligned with on LinkedIn, even just expanding your network is a great start. You can even put up a portfolio on your page so make sure to include your best work for the field you’re interested in, and don’t forget watermarks!