UWTSD welcomes students from all over Wales for Headstart Cymru 2017


The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was pleased to welcome sixth-form students from all over Wales to the university’s Swansea College of Art as they participated in the Product Design Headstart Cymru 2017 course.

Group of students outside Alex Design Centre

The course is a collaboration between UWTSD, Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) and Autodesk, a multinational corporation that produces software for manufacturing, construction, and engineering. It focussed on positive scenarios for the future of robots assisting people with everyday tasks, health, and well-being. Students attended workshops in robotics, coding, and concept design before being asked to produce designs for a product that will promote health and wellbeing. Toby Ajiwe is from Fforestfach in Swansea and attends Gowerton School. He said: “It’s been challenging and hard but it was really engaging. I learnt that when you’re working on something, you don’t just sit at a desk and work on your own project, you have to talk to other people and work as a team. It was great.” 

Dr Sean Jenkins, Head of Design and Applied Arts within the Swansea College of Art at UWTSD said: “The aims of Headstart Cymru match that of UWTSD. In making students more aware of the opportunities beyond sixth form, we champion learning without barriers, widening participation within Higher Education and presenting it as an option to those who may not have considered University. Projects like this add value to the learning experience and create enthusiasm within students, demonstrating the many exciting careers that are available to creative young people who are passionate about the future and designing the world we live in.”

Huw Hall Williams, Senior Project Officer working with STEM Cymru said: “We work with schools, universities and industry so that we can open horizons for students who are interested in STEM careers. This course at UWTSD is fantastic because it opens their eyes to what is available for them. It means that they can make informed decisions about their career choices, where they want to go, and what they want to do.”

Mike Westlake is the UK, Ireland, and Central Eastern Europe Education Manager for Autodesk. He said: “In the era of communication, problem solving and collaboration are two of the most important skills we can learn as designers and engineers. Events like this can show students what a career in design can lead to. Often there’s a connotation that when people leave university they are ‘not good enough’ for industry, events like this prove this is just absolutely not true.”

Winning group in Reading Room

The course culminated in a prize-giving to the designer who had produced the best product. Sean Jones from Aberystwyth was on the winning team who created a product called ALAN, the Automatic Life-Saving Aquatic Navigator.  Rebecca Mellor from Cardiff was on the winning team. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed it, the people were amazing. The workshops were obviously excellent but we also learnt a lot about forming a team and working as a group.”

 Mike said: “The students are fantastic, every year I’m completely blown away and surprised with where they go with the brief. Every year the level surpasses everything I thought was achievable. If you bear in mind that they have only one day of training, the work they produce is simply incredible.” Huw said: “The students are great. Every year we’re strengthening our link with the university and with Autodesk and we’re really looking forward to developing this link to continue providing a fantastic opportunity for our students.”

Further Information

For further information, please email: press@uwtsd.ac.uk