Getting the knowledge

Posted on 01/11/2018 by IED

Chair of the IED Colin Ledsome focuses on the IED’s main conference activity – Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE) – and the role it plays as a powerful information source for members

One of the aspects of a professional organisation is that of being a ‘Learned Body’. That implies being a repository for the knowledge base of the profession, a source of responsible opinion on matters relating to that profession and a disseminator of knowledge to members.

In the old days, when craft guilds kept this knowledge, it was known as the ‘mystery’ of the craft, which those outside it were not allowed to know. This exclusivity not only gave the practitioners an advantage, but protected others from the dangers of using a little knowledge without being aware of the full consequences.

Today, the knowledge base of a profession such as ours is very broad and retained in libraries and databases. More is added by the publication of experiences and research findings via magazines and journals, like this one, and through conferences and courses. Our main conference activity is the Engineering and Product Design Education – E&PDE – series, which can trace its routes back to earlier series, beginning in 1979 with the Sharing Experience in Engineering Design (SEED) conferences. I’ve been going to these conferences since 1980, so I see a lot of familiar faces and make new friends. The IED organises these conferences in partnership with the Design Society, which took on the SEED work as a special interest group, and the host organisation, usually a university design or engineering department.

Conferences have been held in the UK and across Europe, but attendees come from around the world. This year, E&PDE18 was at Imperial College London in its new Dyson School of Design Engineering, from 5-7 September. In terms of the number of attendees, 175, and papers published, 125, it was the most successful yet. Workshops were held at the Royal College of Art, which has a joint course with the Dyson School. The topics were wide ranging across the whole technological design field. The conference dinner was in the Ivory Vaults at St Katherine’s Dock, with a 1920s theme.

Jo Winslow was the IED staff member who organised the event. She has been with us less than a year and this was the first conference of which she has been in charge. At Imperial, Jo was assisted by Nadine Pearce, PA to IED CEO Libby Meyrick. Nadine is celebrating 25 years with the IED. Congratulations to both.

As for E&PDE19, this will be held at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow from 6-8 September next year, so please put those dates in your diary. Abstract submissions need to be in by 19 November, so don’t miss out.

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