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Andrew Wright

Programme Leader Product Design

School of Architecture Computing & Engineering (ACE), Architecture, Computing and Engineering (ACE)

  • KD 1.29, Docklands Campus
    School of Architecture Computing and Engineering (ACE)
    University of East London
    4-6 University Way
    E16 2RD
    I entered product design academically when I graduated from UEL with a BSc 1st class Honours in Product Design as a mature student in 2004.  I then undertook a 1-year fast-track Masters in Digital Design the following year at the University of Huddersfield.  After working briefly in the commercial world I was asked to join the teaching staff at UEL in 2008, rising from an hourly-paid lecturer to become Programme Leader in 2017.  Since then, I have written two modules for the Architecture Cluster and was successful in forming a new BA programme for approval by Quality which launches this year (September 2020).  It was considered to be a more attractive course for today’s students who have grown up with digital culture and the BA offers them an improved programme of learning for today’s fastmoving design industry as compared to the current BSc.  I hope to see it grow to attract at least 30 students per year.

    My interests include design, furniture making/general carpentry, fine art, cycling, hill walking
    MA in Digital Design and BSc (with 1st class Honours) in Product Design
    - Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
    - Link tutor for Barking & Dagenham College which includes chairing meetings twice a year and corresponding with various external examiners.


    Most Recent Research

    I am currently undertaking a research paper which I hope will be published on the Royal Society of Arts’ online platform.  It covers a number of years of dedicated research in my spare time and its various outcomes which have culminated in a multi-sensory learning system that creates both a challenging yet enjoyable interactive product for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and a tool for special needs teachers.  

    Through UEL it is my intention to undertake a PhD which will revolve around progressing to manufacture an interactive product for children and young adults with special educational needs.
    I have undertaken an extensive period of in-depth and detailed research and several SEN schools have shown an interest in the product and are happy to field-test the prototype.

    My initial research into special educational needs resulted in identifying a need for a dedicated tactile teaching tool that is not only of use to teachers and their students but also helps to enhance the children’s sense of play and fun whilst learning.

    Within SEN schools there is very little dedicated equipment and, where there is specialist SEN equipment, it is usually either very expensive, making any purchase a financial liability for most schools when set against their many other budgetary requirements, poor adaptations of products originally designed for mainstream education or equipment with no clear educational aims.

    Therefore, I feel it is long overdue for a designer to take an innovative approach and redefine SEN from a design point of view: by completely researching all the many requirements of both the children and their teachers to create a design methodology that is dictated by these demands and leads to good design; to design a product that enhances the learning environment and empowers the children to explore through play and learning, has clear educational aims and can assess a child’s progress through the education system, is easy to operate and be a reasonably inexpensive piece of equipment when weighed against its many advantages.
    My design is a unique interactive wall consisting of smart polymer tiles.
    When touched, or remotely activated by children with severe mobility restrictions, the tiles create different actions, including light, sound, vibration, temperature, tactile and air flow changes, to produce many sensory effects that are under a SEN teacher’s control via a computer – from simple games for the youngest child through to increasingly complex and challenging tasks for older children.
    It is very user-friendly and would enable teachers to assess students’ abilities as they advance through the stages of learning.
    I firmly believe it would make a real difference to the lives of SEN children by helping to stimulate thought processes and aid developmental ability in an enjoyable manner.

    Although much research has been undertaken, there is scope for further re-assessment of the market and future educational needs.
    I intend to produce a test rig of sufficient standard that will be taken to a number of SEN schools for field-testing, after which I would catalogue and analyse all the subsequent results for any appropriate adjustments to the design, computer programming and/or manufacturing criteria.
    Alongside this it would also be beneficial to video the children interacting with the wall to enable research and development on related subjects, e.g. gauge their range of emotions, sensory abilities, memory and cognition, to build up a number of case studies to assess any other modifications.
    Finally, other parallel research would involve the possibility of the interactive wall communicating with products already on the market, i.e. whiteboards and switches, to further aid the teaching experience for students and teaching staff.


    • test




    I am currently supervising a number of projects which bring together departments within the university, such as Computing and Engineering, to deliver a showcase platform that UEL can use to promote the benefits and innovation within ACE.
    One particular project which utilises my skills is an economical lightweight remotely controlled all-terrain device which will be initially used for geophysics using advanced GPS and other technologies for the purpose of archaeological data gathering.
    If trials prove successful this technology could be developed for use in other fields, such as a very inexpensive flat pack mine detector.
    I can regularly be found in the workshop helping students to realise their concepts and to work through any engineering problems.
    This sometimes involves different departments that require me to help their students with an understanding of product design.



    I teach Levels 4, 5 and 6 (on the Product Design course within ACE) in major design projects and specialise in experimental design through hands-on model making to resolve complex design problems that my students would have researched and resulted in their own concepts.

    ME1612, ME1613, ME2617, ME3614, ME3615, ME3606 and ME3609
    I am the Programme Leader for Contextual Studies and Business/Marketing Studies for Years 1-3 Product Design