We would like to congratulate former Upper 6 student Isi on her recent design project.  Isi has had excellent success with her project reaching two national design competition finals. The Triumph Design award where she was highly commended in the Innovation and visionary section as well as the Impact on Society section and corporate responsibility for the empathy and excellent stakeholder iteration she achieved. The Technology, Design and Innovation (TDI) challenge at Mazak UK in Worcester, where Isi won the People’s choice award for the best project voted by judges, employees at Mazak UK, her peers in the final, teachers, friends and family attending the event.

Isi writes about the projects here.

I chose to design an educational, leisure product for adults with profound intellectual disabilities as my A-level DT project since currently they use toys designed for babies as there are no other products suitable for their developmental level of 6-12 months. However these toys are firstly too small, secondly too fragile since at a 6-12 month developmental level users may throw their toys and as adults have much more strength than a baby the toys may snap and break if thrown, and thirdly can be socially stigmatising because they look infantile with their use of cartoons and primary colours.

I met with health care professionals such as occupational therapists at Great Ormond Street Hospital throughout my iterative design process, on each visit bringing sketches and crude models to discuss and gain feedback in order to achieve a user centred design. I was also able to discuss ideas with parents and carers. The final design, PAC, targets sensorimotor exploration and cause-and-effect play. It has interchangeable activities to promote independent play and switches that operate rainbow coded lights and a spinning optical illusion. I trialled it with two children at Great Ormond Street and it was very rewarding to see how much they enjoyed the activities.

I entered PAC into two national competitions, reaching the finals in both. The first competition was held at Triumph’s motorcycle factory in Hinkley on 29 June where I won an award for ‘corporate responsibility’ and one for ‘visual design’. The second competition was the Technology Design Innovation Challenge held at Mazak’s factory in Worcester on 3 July where I won the people’s trophy which was awarded to the finalist who gained the most votes from the visitors attending the exhibition on the day. At each competition, I had a stall displaying the final PAC prototype as well as items from the design/manufacturing process and posters.  I then had the opportunity to talk to judges about my project and explain my final prototype as well as the journey along the way. I really enjoyed the competitions, partly as an opportunity to meet other students and see their amazing projects but also to begin to understand the opportunities for engineers and to look round their factories.

If you take DT at GCSE or A-level, I would thoroughly encourage you to enter these competitions as you have already done most of the work and they give you the opportunity to celebrate all of your hard work and success.