Lillie Burton studying Product Design at Loughborough University
What is your degree about?
Product Design is designing from the inside out. The 'inside' being the internal components and the 'outside' the look of the product and the way it works (the aesthetics and ergonomics). A successful product designer also needs to know about computer aided design, materials and processing, mechanics, electronics and how the environment the product will be used in affects the design.
The course encourages a lot of team work and group projects as in a normal working environment you would most likely be working in a team. The team often comes together to build a prototype and this is tested and improved to get to the final product. On the course, team activities include group presentations, coursework and research - all of which involve skills needed in a career in design.
What was the course like?
The best thing about my course is that I am learning a range of different skills and concepts, not just remembering facts.
I don't just sit in a lecture theatre writing notes. There are practical workshops, lab sessions, open-plan interactive lectures and tutorials and the variety makes the course a lot more interesting.
It’s good to challenge the misconception that boys are better at engineering and this type of study. Girls are often in a minority in an engineering course so it is easier to stand out and bring something different to the group work. This also applies when trying to get a job.
I took my A Levels at Hayesfield School and I was pleased to pass my exams with enough UCAS points to get into Loughborough. It was my first choice university because the course here really inspired me and made me want to learn more about the subject area.
Why did you choose a course in engineering?
It’s a practical course that involves a combination of skills and will give me the opportunity to move into a range of different jobs if I decide I don't always want to be a product designer.
The course also builds on the skills I learnt at A-level and furthered my knowledge in subjects I enjoy learning about.
I also chose this subject area as it’s a field which is still developing and in the future could lead to an even wider a range of related jobs and careers.
What skills and qualities do you need?
I have found that problem solving, thinking creatively about things and risk taking are by far the most important employability skills for me. You couldn’t do well in a career in product design without these skills.
My most important quality is that I'm a very positive and ‘can do’ person. This is really important in my course because we have to find solutions to problems.
Communication is also important as are team work and presentation skills. Having the ability to communicate your ideas and images is crucial when talking to another team member or a client.
What advice do you have for young women interested in engineering?
Find out as much as you can about the subject and try to picture yourself enjoying studying it. It is really important to be well motivated to study any form of engineering.
When you were at school, what would have helped you prepare for a career in engineering and become more employable?
Work experience is very useful and it is great that virtually all students do this now. This gives you some background knowledge before even starting the course.
Some of the STEM days and activities that schools do sound very helpful, my school did not have many of those.
When I started the course I had to work harder on those modules that were physics based as I did not do this subject at A-level. This was a struggle at the beginning as I had to catch up on work when most of the others on the course had already covered it.
• Go for it!
• Never turn down an opportunity ñ it may seem like a very small job or task but everything you do well leaves a positive impression on others and then they will remember you in the future