Company-Oriented University?

Around a month ago, we embarked on a selection process for an industrial designer to join Bizintek to work on designing and developing new products. We received a pile of CVs (over 200) which is not at all surprising given the high unemployment figures. What I was pleased to see is the quality of the CVs.

There are many young people who really want to apply design to creating new products. Some of them told us that many of their fellow students had been forced to turn away from design and focus on more technical and engineering areas due to the lack of job prospects in those areas.

The majority sent us the concepts and projects developed when they were studying Industrial Design Engineering or a Master’s Degree (many of them abroad) and I was delighted by the approach and how the projects were developed within their studies. Many of the candidates had studied Industrial Design at Mondragón University and for the first time ever, it struck me that studying a degree in engineering in Spain has really prepared students for the workplace and has particularly forced the students to think in terms of user, business models, selling the product, the idea, creativity, etc.

We did not even touch on these areas when studying Telecom at the Bilbao School of Engineering and we did very few practical activities oriented to the job market and product creation and design. I realise that the syllabus has changed excessively since I was at university.

¿La universidad orientada a la empresa?

In general, university education is overlooking the fact that, in any of the branches of engineering, the work of an engineer must prioritise creating and designing objects, systems and processes focusing on the market and generating value.

CHANGE IS NEEDED

If I look at it from the prospect of my own university education and the cases that I have come across, I do not believe that we training the professionals of the future from a company and professional development oriented approach. I agree with the discourse that maintains that university helps to forge a structure of basic knowledge on which we there develop our career.

However, times have changed and a company can no longer wait for graduates to take a further one or two years to learn while they work (this may also be one of the reasons behind the extremely high unemployment rate of the under 30s). We have to bridge that gap as far as possible and I do not believe that the current university system needs to be take part, but only that some changes need to be made.

  • Subjects in English: The level of English of our university graduates is among the worst in Europe. They hardly use the language during their 4 or 5 years at university.
  • More group work “simulating the future work to be carried out”: setting up a company, a design commissioned by a customer. And so on. These situations help you to have an overview of how companies are run.
  • In-class presentation of papers: I believe that I ended my university studies without having to present not even of one my papers. Knowing how to sell yourself and what you do is 50% of professional success
  • Dramatically pruning the subjects that are easily available in Wikipedia: There is no point in accumulating useless information in our brains and we also forget it in under a year.
  • Compulsory internships in company during the last year of the degree.

Author: Daniel del Río