Alumni Stories - Ian McWhinnie
"We have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the change in habits we are seeing towards sustainability and environmental accountability, that are being driven by the pandemic. If we want to drive change, this is the time."
Name: Ian McWhinnie
Current Career: New Product Development – Medical Devices
Graduation Year: 2017
Disciplines: New Product Development and Medical Device Design
What career path did you want to follow as a child?
I wanted to be anything and everything, so I didn’t really focus on a career until I was forced to make a choice leaving school. Then I picked architecture - for a while at least.
Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
There are a multitude of life decisions that eventually led to my enrolment at NCAD. While studying Industrial Design as an undergraduate in the UK I had the good fortune of interacting with a group of students from NCAD while on ERASMUS in Milan. I was struck by how knowledgeable they were about design and the design process. I felt that they were streets ahead of me in terms of ability and development. So, when I had the opportunity, more than a decade later, to change career direction and study at NCAD, I jumped at the chance.
How did you develop your career towards your current practice?
I’m not sure that I intentionally developed the career that I have carved out for myself. I spent the first 12 years after graduating from art school as a mechanical design engineer, and I still don’t know the first thing about mechanical engineering. But I loved the projects, I loved the problem-solving and people appreciated the work that I did. Moving into medical device design has altered the challenges but hasn’t changed my ethos – to love the work you do and see where it takes you.
What is the one experience during your time at NCAD that has informed you most in your work to date?
For my thesis project I had to interview and observe drug addicts and their behaviours which was a challenge. However, the positive reaction and outcome served as vindication to the research and design tools that were taught throughout the year.
If you were chatting with current NCAD students today what is the one piece of advice you would offer?
Learn how to present with confidence.
Given the global turmoil and change accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, what in your opinion are the opportunities for those in creative industries?
We have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the change in habits we are seeing towards sustainability and environmental accountability, that are being driven by the pandemic. If we want to drive change, this is the time.
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