Nissan’s Head of Design Thinks Integrated Thinking is the Key

Thai engineering students learn about the importance of creativity and flexible ideas

On February 16, 2018, Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan Motor Corporation’s Senior Vice President of Global Design, visited Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, as part of the Roots of Design program. About a hundred engineering students attended the event.

This was the first time the Roots of Design program included a visit to a local school since the program was announced in London about two years ago. Speaking to an audience made up of mostly of students studying electrical, mechanical and automotive engineering, Albaisa used real-life examples of his work experience as a designer to explain how engineering influences design and helps resolve design issues. And, conversely, how design contributes in realizing technologies in concrete forms.

Using many design sketches, Alfonso explained what consumers consider advanced and attractive and how engineers must engage in creative and flexible idea creation just like designers do. He also told the students the importance of being able to show ideas in forms others can actually see and appreciate.

With fast-developing, complex technologies of mobility electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity, Alfonso emphasized how simple yet easy-to-use designs with high affinity to the surrounding elements are highly prized and desired. He also touched on how the new areas of design, like User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI), could be a platform to connect technology and design where engineering students may be able to play active roles in the future.

Students’ questions to Albaisa were serious yet ambitious: “How does Nissan plan to compete with the rise of EV start-up companies?” and “What category of cars makes you feel proudest to design?” Through the lecture, Alfonso showed the students the importance of creativity and encouraged them to realize that there is a vast and diverse potential in their future career where “design” could play an important part.

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