The James Dyson Foundation has donated £12 million to Imperial College London, to create the Dyson School of Design Engineering.
The brief is simple: design something that solves a problem. And the reward is substantial – up to £30,000 to further your idea and an additional £10,000 to your university department.
Titan Arm is an upper body exoskeleton designed to help users lift heavy objects. Meet the team of designers at the University of Pennsylvania behind this year’s winning design.
Mountain hikers inspired this camera that has since become a collector’s item. It took several iterations to perfect a lightweight camera that was easy to use at the world’s highest peaks.
Find more inspiration on this and other engineering trailblazers.
Anthony sees opportunity where others see a problem – a skill every great inventor must have.
Read MoreDan Watson Freelance Designer
Dan is a freelance designer who grabbed headlines in 2012 as the global winner of the James Dyson Award.
Read MoreEdward Linacre Industrial Designer
Edward Linacre is a Melbourne based Industrial Designer. He won the 2011 James Dyson Award with his invention AirDrop – a low-cost, low-maintenance aid to the problems of farming in arid areas.
Like many engineers, Austin has been building and taking things apart since he was a young child. But since coming to university his work has taken a new direction. He learnt to program.
Lisa’s passion for engineering is borne out of a love for science and art – and creating things.
Chris Natt is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, UK – and was supported by the James Dyson Foundation. His project is Blastproof.
Freedom and independence at university can be distracting, but challenge yourself to create a portfolio right away. The progression of ideas from first year to final year is very intriguing to companies. Putting every project into a portfolio will help push you to think creatively and practically – and review your progress.
Pressure. Your final year project is a lot of work. So make it worth it. Treat the project as a real invention. You never know where it might go. It will certainly pique the interest of prospective employers and might even lead to a real product. And don’t forget to enter the James Dyson Award – a chance to win £30,000.
Time spent in the studio is important. But there’s little to replace industry experience. Internships and work placements can be hard to come by. You may have to give up your summer, but the reward on your CV is priceless. Even two weeks in a professional company can make a world of difference.
Various engineering disciplines means there are countless engineering job titles. Each position varies – so take time to carefully research the job description and the company.
Some of the best ideas are really simple, and can be happy accidents. When you’re experimenting, you’ll often have one idea at the start of the process, and arrive at a completely different one by the end.
Alexander Graham Bell spent hours pouring over diagrams by German physician Herman Von Helmholtz. He couldn’t read German so misconstrued Helmholtz’s diagrams on frequencies, wrongly reproducing his workings and inventing the telephone during the process.
Problem solving is about developing tangible products. And it takes a great deal of perseverance to design, build, test and build again.
Students from across the world enter the James Dyson Award each year with clever designs that solve problems. Dan Watson won the Award in 2012 with his invention SafetyNet. It is a device which can be incorporated into fishing nets to allow young, unmarketable fish to escape. Thanks to the prize money and exposure he received, he is now trialling his invention with government agencies and using this insight to develop his technology further.
Great ideas are hard to keep secret. But remember, once an idea is out in the public domain it becomes prior art and can’t be patented. Be carefully about giving away the secrets to your invention. And if you need advice, you should always do it under a Non-Disclosure Agreement – this means the person receiving information can’t use or tell anyone else about your idea.
Young inventors should always put a patent in their name rather in the name of their fledgling company. Failure to do so can be costly.
James Dyson learned the hard way. One of his early inventions, the Ballbarrow, was patented in the name of the company – so James had no rights to the invention. The company decided to boot James off the board without a penny and sold his invention to another company.
Don’t hold anything back. A patent attorney needs to know every little painstaking detail of your invention to understand how it works and how it is different. Only then will they be able to properly articulate it in the patent application to lock up your intellectual property as tightly as possible.
Filing a patent is expensive, and you need to file in every country where you intend to sell your invention. It can be tough when you’re just starting out. So first, spend your hard-earned cash on getting the best protection possible in the most important countries.
Even with a patent people will try their luck. It’s not always an easy battle but young inventors need to be prepared to fight for their ideas.
Costly tuition fees should not be a barrier to the brightest and best acquiring the skills and qualifications they need. So the James Dyson Foundation works with universities dedicated to high tech, forward thinking design engineering.
The Foundation works with the following universities offering scholarships, PhD studentships and project support.
More than £32,000 annually supports students pursuing undergraduate degrees in engineering. These funds are managed by the university and awarded to students demonstrating academic excellence and a commitment to engineering through the strength of their project work. Recipients are also encouraged to inspire the next generation of engineers through workshops or outreach. Students apply directly with the university.
More than £67,000 annually supports students with strong project designs by providing a stipend to offset the cost of materials. These funds are managed by the university and awarded to students demonstrating a commitment to the design process. Students apply directly with the university.
Bournemouth University – Bournemouth, England, UK
Brunel University – London, England UK
University of Cambridge – Cambridge, England, UK
Cornell University – Ithaca, New York, USA
Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Glasgow School of Art – Glasglow, Scotland, UK
Loughborough University – Loughborough, England, UK
Parsons New School of Design – New York, New York, USA
University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
More than £260,000 annually supports students continuing education at postgraduate level. It’s a costly endeavor but focused project work and research is important. These scholarships are managed by the university and awarded to students demonstrating a commitment to engineering and the development of new ideas.
Art Center College of Design – Pasadena, California, USA
Bath University – Bath, England, UK
Imperial College London – London, England, UK
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Royal College of Art – London, England, UK
Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University – Chicago, Illinois, USA
University of Bristol – Bristol, England, UK
University of Cambridge – Cambridge, England, UK
The James Dyson Foundation patent fund provides up to £122,000 annually to help students commercialise their ideas. The fund is currently administered by the Royal College of Art but we will soon be launching a similar scheme in the US. The fund supports both Intellectual Property protection and Proof of Concept grants, with distribution varying year to year based on student demand. A significant portion of the fund is given to an Innovation RCA fellow – a young inventor who has a particularly outstanding idea ready for commercialisation.