10 months ago

The Star: April 27, 2017

8 Latest Christchurch

8 Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Our People Thursday April 27 2017 The Star Conan Fee Creating a path Next year, Canterbury University will open a completely new School of Product Design. Head of school Conan Fee spoke to Gabrielle Stuart about robots, inventions and encouraging creativity PROGRESS: Both an engineer and a musician himself, Conan Fee is working on a new degree which combines engineering and the arts. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN Tell me about the school you’re creating? The idea is that graduates will be technically literate and can engineer something feasible, but also understand how to design something beautiful for the end user, and then how to take what they have created to market. It will be quite hands-on in that respect. Once you have your product and your end user in mind you can go right into prototyping, with access to all kinds of ‘maker spaces’, where you can create things and try them. So these students could go anywhere, working in the medical field or in education or creating sports equipment, anything. I remember as a student, engineering and arts students would constantly mock each other. It was like they spoke different languages. How on earth do you combine the two disciplines? We didn’t actually set out to do that. This degree started with a blank slate. We said what do we want to produce in a graduate? Many years ago, when I was working at University of Waikato, we had about 5000 management students at the time. I remember thinking they were probably going to end up just selling each other cellphones. The question is, who is creating the product for them to manage? I could also see a whole group of talented students at high school who don’t have the depth in things like maths or chemistry that they would need to be engineers, but who have enormous creativity. Creativity seems to be something that is encouraged in pre-school, but seems to be lost or trained out of us as we get older. This is helping to create a pathway for people with that creativity. And the other side of it is the entrepreneurs who have created successful products and businesses, but have had to do it by the seat of their pants. OUR ESTUARY NEEDS YOUR HELP! We need your comments on the future of the estuary! The Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust is a not for profit organisation formed by the community to coordinate management of the estuary. The Trust has developed a draft Ecological Management Plan for the estuary. But are we on the right track? Come and have your say. Trust Board members will present the draft plan and ask for your comments. Date: Tues, 2 May 2017 Venue: Time: New Brighton Club – 202 Marine Parade – Upstairs in the JC Walsh Lounge 7:30pm OR Date: Thurs, 4 May 2017 Venue: Mt Pleasant Community Centre – 3 McCormacks Bay Rd Time: 7:30pm No need to book - FREE - ample carparking at both venues For more information contact: All Sewing Needs Tailoring for 40 years Alterations, repairs & garment makeovers. All fabric including leather wear. Made to order. All enquiries welcome 474 Barrington St Corner Lincoln Road (near Z Station) Phone: 339 2464 Tuesday, 9th May 2017 Principal’s address 10:00am

The Star Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday April 27 2017 9 for future entrepreneurs to follow Can you tell me about your own background? I was born and raised in Christchurch. The fork in the road for my career was when I was a student trying to decide whether I wanted to become a musician or an engineer. I chose engineering, because it seemed a more secure career path. I did my training in chemical engineering and followed the academic path to become Dean of Engineering, but I moulded it to my interests a lot. So did you keep playing music? Not as much as I’d have liked to. I probably spent too much time practising piano when I should have been practising engineering, and too much time engineering when I should have been playing piano. Have you any inventions of your own? I’ve got a couple of patents, but they have never made a cent. Most are quite technical. One was a protein extraction robot, which could extract protein from milk right on a farm, to create a much higher-value product. If you had done this course yourself, do you think those inventions would have turned out differently? Yes, I do think so. Designing a protein extract machine with the end user, the farmer, in mind, you would approach it differently. Nespresso is a good example. The idea was to make baristaquality coffee, but make it easily accessible to people at home. As a functional product it worked well, but it took about 30-odd years before it took off. It didn’t become popular until they incorporated the different designs and styles, and the right marketing. And George Clooney, too, but we don’t offer him as part of this course, unfortunately. If this kind of course works so well, why hasn’t it been done before? I think things have come together now for the first time. If a student can conceive an idea they now have all the digital tools on their tablet to create a 3D design. Then they can 3D print a prototype, without needing all the equipment they did in the past, or having to study for years all those industry skills you once needed to use the equipment. TECH: Using technology, like virtual reality, is one of the things the School of Product Design plans to help students explore. The world is changing. Look at China, the online connectivity there and the number of small companies that have developed because of it. You can order just about anything and have it arrive on your doorstep a couple of weeks later. The other thing is artificial intelligence, robots. Even what we consider highly-trained knowledge workers, I think will lose their jobs to artificial intelligence. Think about architecture - you can now design your own house using just a computer and some software. So as that develops, where does that leave architects and draftsmen? But a job that won’t be lost, is human-centred product design. And personally, why have you stayed in Christchurch? It’s this. I’ve turned down approaches from other schools overseas asking me to come and do more of the same there, because I have already followed the classic academic career. But this, the idea that we can take a whole group of young people who didn’t necessarily have a pathway open for them, and create a host of graduates who will go out with these skills and with enthusiasm to create new things: This fills me with hope. There is a vibe about the city now, it is open to innovation. I think that was the silver lining that came from the earthquakes. We have built modern buildings, yes, but also the gap fillers and the murals, which were creative and edgy and outside the old social norms. They’re what has pulled people forward. People came from all over the world to help with rebuilding the city, and they’re now saying what’s next? I know that’s the question on my mind, anyway. Your local inner city workshop servicing your vehicle now! NOW AVAILABLE: • Car oil changes • Brakes • All mechanical repairs • Tyres - Buy one get the second ½ price (Conditions apply) Free loan cars available Conditions apply Still trying to get your EQ damage or repair issues sorted $32 WOF CONVENIENT CENTRAL CITY REPAIRS & PARKING Cnr Fitzgerald Ave & Hereford St. Phone: 365-5220 We’ve helped hundreds of homeowners get what their policy promises. Talk to us about our “no win-no fee” approach. Ph: 03 377 8855 | 127 Ferry Road, Christchurch City E: | W: NO WIN NO FEE