Real-world classroom: Covestro challenges design students to innovate with polycarbonate

Damian Horst , Program Director Transportation Design, Umea Institute of Design

Students from the Umeå Institute of Design (UID) were instrumental in bringing the K 2016 concept car to life. Energized by the success at K 2016, Covestro and UID graduate students are already looking ahead to what’s next. We thought our readers would be interested in learning more about the latest collaborative initiative with this world-renowned industrial design school.

UID graduate students taking a vehicle design course are investigating the potential applications of translucent plastic in commercial vehicles. The project, called “ready:yet,” is supported by Covestro. CNH Industrial, a capital goods company and Iveco, a manufacturer of commercial vehicles, are contributing design expertise.

Six teams, each made up of two students, will propose a complete vehicle concept for the following vehicle types: long-haul truck, city delivery truck, city delivery van, city bus, highway coach and school bus. The goal is for the students to push boundaries in the use of translucent plastic materials in truck and bus design, proposing new and potential unexplored functions related to different lighting conditions, such as day and night.

Earlier this fall UID students visited Covestro in Leverkusen to share their initial design concepts and to gain a deeper understanding about polycarbonate. The students had an opportunity to learn more about utilizing polycarbonate for exteriors, interiors and lighting from Covestro product experts. They also learned about the newest innovations in polycarbonates including composite materials and processing know-how from part design to injection molding.

Hear students share their perspective on the ready:yet project:

“Covestro recognizes the value of sharing our product knowledge and expertise with young minds while gaining a better understanding of designers’ needs,” explained Dirk Kurzidim, Covestro representative for ready:yet and transportation segment head for Europe, Middle East and Latin America at Covestro AG. Kurzidim, who highlighted that Covestro has already successfully cooperated with UID on automotive design during the past two years, continued: “The students will give Covestro insight into potential commercial vehicle design trends, which helps shape innovation and product development at our company.”

Demian Horst, UID graduate, is the director for the transportation design program and the deputy director for strategic collaboration. As the course instructor, Demian understands the importance of encouraging his students to push the boundaries of design.

“This project provides students with a valuable, real-world challenge to learn more about polycarbonate while creating new, fresh design ideas for commercial vehicles,” said Horst. “For our students this is a hands-on opportunity to exercise vehicle design methodology – from research to 3D visualization of their proposals – while gaining valuable feedback from experts during the process.”

A project is also underway in the U.S. with students at the College for Creative Studies, located in Detroit, focusing on interior design for autonomous vehicles. Stay tuned for more details in a future issue.

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