Mr Raymond Nsereko was also on the Design without Boarders and the Norwegian Peace corps exchange program in 2006/2007. Since then he has become a lecturer at Margaret Trowell School of industrial and fine Arts and his objective is to introduce design thinking and industrial design at the Makerere University. When the NTNU students showed their design projects, Mr. Nsereko particularly paid attention to projects from the mechathronics class. The NTNU stuents had been given the option to make ‘anything’ and had come up with two beautiful user experiences of sound and image, combining knowledge from mechanics, programming tools and electronics.
During the design workshop, I therefore made the decision to let the design students pick appropriate design method and gave them the task to explore the methods that they thought could generate the most diverging ideas. Based on the visit to Ugastove, the students chose to work with cooking stoves, and the discussions and particularly the free sketching phase was producing many solutions very quickly. A visible difference between the Norwegian students and the Makerere students was that the Makerere students would sometimes leave the group to develop very detailed technical solutions to the concepts, while the NTNU students would thrive in the more conceptual mode. Nsereko explained to us that he wanted to develop a stronger culture for divergent conceptual thinking but that it also required the presence of industry and external influence in order to improve the innovation capabilities at the University. Academia in Uganda is currently quite segragated from industry and not seen as a component in the development of technologies and products. The student projects we saw were based on problems defined by lecturers, and did not originate in industrial needs or in partnership with external stakdeholders. The dean of the faculty also visitied the workshop twice and was interested in collaborating with the department of product design for an improvement of their design courses. They wish to develop a curriculum for industrial design and have visited several other African universities to gather lessons learned. We also discussed the potential of including East-African industry in the discussion of such a curriculum, as it could improve the rate of employement beyond the studies. We decided that a way forward could be to write a paper based on experiences with design methods within the two contexts.