20 Industrial Design and Product Design Engineering students from Swinburne Univeristy of Technology recently spent three weeks in Seoul, Korea, on an industry-integrated study tour. The tour collaborated closely with Korean students at Hongik University and were guided by professional mentors from renowned organisations such as Hyundai Kia Motors, Genesis, LG, and Naver.
The trip was led by Swinburne Industrial Design Course Director and Hongik University alum, Dr Jo Kuys, who leveraged her extensive industry network to give students first-hand experience with cutting-edge Korean design.
Scholarship funding was secured by Discipline Coordinator of Product Design Engineering, Dr Charlie Ranscombe, to ensure the trip was accessible through New Colombo Plan funding. The trip would also not have been possible without the collaboration of Hongik University School of Art and Design Dean, Professor Lee, along with members of the Industrial Design Department Professor Hwang, Professor Eoh and Professor Juh who were instrumental in developing the program and mentoring students.
Next-level industry connection
In addition to mentoring from the experienced staff at Hongik, students were inspired by daily visits from Hongik alumni, who lead some of the most famous design and engineering brands in the world.
Swinburne Industrial Design students, Joshua Mcshanag and Jonathon De Lacy, expressed their surprise and enthusiasm at the level of industry feedback and connection.
“The feedback was never, ‘That's wrong do this’. It was ‘Imagine if the design could do this’. It was always them pushing you in the right direction,” Jonathon said.
“Every day we'd have industry advisors come around—people from Hyundai, Genesis and other amazing companies. Getting the opportunity to bounce ideas off them was fantastic,” Joshua said.
Students also had the opportunity to visit state-of-the-art facilities, many of which usually have very limited public access.
“LG was my favourite. I was curious to see the way that the masters in the field are handling design. It was fascinating, for both my research and execution,” Joshua said.
Product Design Engineering student, Catherine Walton, was particularly taken by the Luxury car company, Genesis.
“It was inspiring, as a young designer, to see a young company come into the world of design with such a strong vision,” Catherine said.
Ms Lee Jinyoung, from the Seoul Design Foundation, facilitated the students’ architectural tour of the renowned Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
“Witnessing the passion and curiosity with which they explored our cutting-edge designs was a testament to the promising talent fostered by Swinburne,” Ms Jinyoung said.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience
Dr Kuys and the students were adamant about how profoundly Korea and Hongik had inspired and informed the student’s design journeys.
“Hongik University is best known for design; it's a very trendy and fun place to be. Students got to immerse themselves in what it's like to be a young designer in Korea,” said Dr Kuys.
“I'll never forget the feeling I had staying there. It was different from just travelling because we felt more of a part of it. We were making friends with locals, hanging out with people that live there,” Catherine said.
“We made the most of every day, every second. We knew we represented our university and we’d been given this great opportunity, which no one wanted to waste,” Joshua said.
Professor Junha Kang, Dean, Office of International Affairs, at Hongik University proactively supported future collaborative programs with Swinburne.
“The positive outcomes of this year's program have left an indelible mark on both participating students and our esteemed institutions,” Professor Kang said.
“We eagerly anticipate extending the invaluable program opportunity to an even larger cohort of students in the future.”