University – Industry Collaboration
The goal of our Department, which was established in 1979, is to educate our students as creative and innovative designers who are sensitive to user needs, and able to utilize opportunities of emerging technologies. Since we believe that education should consider the needs of our country’s industry, besides the compulsory internships and industrial field trips, we conduct Graduation Projects in collaboration with various industrial organizations.
What is a Graduation Project?
The graduation project course is the final project course of our curriculum before graduation and has a 12-hour weekly course load. In this course, each student is expected to develop a design project throughout the semester. Besides an expectation for being developed uniquely, and reflecting the student’s skills and design approach that s/he has developed throughout education, it is fundamental that the project, is carried out in collaboration with a firm. The reason for this is to provide the opportunity for the student to experience professional practice to some extent before graduation.
2015 Exhibition Poster: Akın Köse; Modular outdoor lighting unit for public areas which allows the integration of smart devices: Hande Karagöz (Moonlight); Knowledge transformation and security control system for coal miners: Oğuzhan Topçuoğlu (Aselsan HBT); Stretcher that eases the process of lateral transfer for both patient and caregiver: Taha Celal Yıldırım (Nitrocare); Reusable electronic biopsy device and supportive accessories for easier operations: Akın Köse (Futerodesign); Modular cooking unit bringing together the acts of cooking and eating, and turning them into a social activity: Ahou Naghshafkan (Vestel Beyaz); Working unit which enables individuals and small teams to also work while standing in open plan offices: Hazal Alkan (Offi).
Initially students are expected to bring project proposals to a firm, although it is preferred by our Department that firms develop and direct students’ proposals, in order that they fit to the subject interests of the firm. With this approach, it is our observation that both parties are able to gain benefits from the collaboration. At the end of the semester, the project is expected to conclude with high quality models/prototypes and presentation boards, and all projects are exhibited to the public in the Cultural and Convention Center of METU. The publicity activity and large number of press releases issued for the exhibition are other issues that have crucial importance for us within the scope of Graduation Projects. In previous years, some of our students received prestigious awards for their graduation projects, including Red Dot Design Concept, iF Concept and Braunprize. In addition to this, selections from the Graduation Projects were exhibited on Tokyo Designers Week, TİM Innovation Week Turkey (Ankara and Istanbul) and METU Alumni Day, broadcasted on radio and television channels; and published in several newspapers and magazines. In 2016, our students’ Graduation Projects are expected to attract similar media coverage.
Considering our past experiences and feedback received from firms, we can highlight the benefits of collaboration in graduation projects for firms as follows:
- Having an opportunity to get to know future design professionals and evaluate their performances.
- Promoting of the collaborating firms, both during the events of the graduation projects exhibition, and afterwards through other exhibitions and publications showcasing the graduation projects.
- Being able to observe the various contemporary methods and approaches, as well as idea generation techniques utilized in design education.
Our Principles Regarding Intellectual Property Rights
Based on our past experiences and requests and suggestions from firms, our principles regarding intellectual property rights within the scope of Graduation Projects are as follows:
- Graduation Projects are exhibited and evaluated publicly in a way that contributes to all of our students’ education. For this reason it is suggested that projects requiring confidentiality should not be considered within the scope of Graduation Projects.
- The University, the student and the firm are the mutual owners of the right to exhibit and publish graduation projects. Provided that the University’s, the student’s and the firm’s names are always indicated, the parties are free to exhibit and publish the projects.
- Trade secrets (or ‘know how’) shared by the parties during the process are mutually kept secret.
- In job applications, the student has a right to show her/his graduation project to third parties as part of her/his design portfolio.
- The student must inform the university and the firm at least 10 business days prior to submitting her/his graduation project to any competition.
- Within the scope of the related legislation and the principles of the University’s “Intellectual and Industrial Property Rights for Students”, any patents, utility models and industrial design registrations belong to the student.
- Within the scope of the related legislation, if the University has supplied funding in terms of tools and equipment specific to the research that results in a patent or design, the University holds the right to demand a reasonable part of the income resulting from the commercialization of the patent or design.
- If the student would like to take action regarding his/her project (application for the protection of intellectual property rights, commercialization, participating in competitions, applying for awards and funding) within 10 months following the Graduation Projects Exhibition, the student has to inform the University and the firm. The firm reserves the preemptive right for the project within the 10 months following the Graduation Projects Exhibition.
If the firm requests to follow a different strategy regarding intellectual property rights than that outlined here, related correspondence with the University and the student should be carried out at the beginning of the semester.
Our Expectations from Collaboration
Our primary expectations from collaborating firms for the graduation projects, carried out regularly since 2002, is expertise support. This support, which usually comprises advice and information regarding issues related to design, production, marketing, and model making, requires 6-10 meetings throughout the semester (which become more frequent towards the end of the semester). These meetings are carried out either by the student visiting the firm’s premises, or by the firm’s representatives participating at various project presentations held at METU such as the initial ideas jury, preliminary jury and final jury.
Our institutional priority is for the collaboration to result in an original design project, independently developed by the student in line with the knowledge provided by you. It is important for us to achieve our educational goals that the collaborating firm provides constructive and guiding comments and advice on the student’s design decisions, and does not directly intervene with the student’s design.
Last year, seven out of nine of students who applied to TÜBİTAK’s “Industry-Oriented Graduation Projects Support Scholarship” had been awarded up to 4000 TL worth of reimbursement for the project expenses. Moreover, in the product category of TÜBİTAK’s “Industry-Oriented Graduation Projects Competition”, open to departments from all fields of engineering, fundamental sciences, social sciences, medical sciences, architecture and design from all over Turkey, seven of the 31 finalists are from our Department, and two of them have been awarded first place and third place. We will encourage our students to participate in TÜBİTAK’s graduation scholarship and graduation project competition in 2016 as well.