BSc Product Design and Technology student Aaisha talks to us about her placement at Design Factory Birmingham. 

Hi, my name is Aaisha, hear about my exciting journey through my role as an additive manufacturing technician at Design Factory Birmingham. From securing my placement opportunity to overcoming challenges and embracing memorable experiences, join me as I share insights, advice, and reflections on how this experience has shaped my academic and personal development.







What is your role at Design Factory Birmingham?

I work as an additive manufacturing technician at the Design Factory. This involves working with various 3D printers and machines, such as laser cutters. I also participate in design work, collaborating with companies to develop and prototype ideas.



How did you secure your placement?

During my second year at university, I participated in design challenges organised by APF (Aston Prototyping Facility), which is a part of Design Factory. Through these challenges, I had the opportunity to meet some of my current colleagues who played a key role in helping me secure my current placement.






What have been the biggest challenges you've faced during your placement so far?

During my placement, the biggest challenge I faced was maintaining a healthy 9-5 working schedule. As a student, I was used to staying up late and working over the weekends to complete coursework, which made it difficult to adjust to a new routine. However, I view this as a learning opportunity that will help me in managing my time and achieving a healthy work-life balance, especially during my final year.


Can you share any memorable experiences or projects you've worked on and how has your academic journey been impacted?

One of the most memorable experiences during my time on placement, was the launch of Design Factory in February this year. Witnessing all the months of hard work and planning come together was both frightening and thrilling. We also had the privilege of hosting various companies, including the global Design Factories from Finland and Brunel. Through my placement year, I had the opportunity to experience the transition from being a student to becoming a staff member, which has helped me mature professionally and personally. I have learned to set boundaries, take control of my work, and meet deadlines without any excuses. Additionally, I have had the chance to interact with various companies, which has broadened my knowledge and skills in my field of study.






What skills do you feel you've gained or improved upon during your placement year, and what advice would you give others looking for a placement?

I learned a lot about designing for manufacturing, rather than just creating designs that look pretty. I discovered that trial and error is a crucial part of the design process and that not everything works the first time. I also gained knowledge about different 3D printing tools and technologies, which will be useful for my final year project, where I will have to create my own product. Also just knowing what equipment is available in the department will be hugely beneficial. I recommend applying to placements as early as possible, especially if you're pursuing a design-based degree. Make sure your portfolio is polished to showcase your skills. Additionally, take advantage of the opportunities the university has to offer, such as participating in competitions and challenges.


Have you had the chance to network with professionals in your field during your placement?

Networking with professionals in my field has been a key part of my placement experience at the Design Factory Birmingham. Whether it's through industry events, workshops, or project meetings. I've had the opportunity to connect with experts who have provided valuable insights and guidance.






How do you stay motivated and engaged throughout your placement year, and how do you see your placement year contributing to your future career goals or aspirations?

 I am working on something new practically every day, I don't find myself getting bored of what I do. However, if I do come across something that I find difficult or lose motivation, I have a great team that supports me. Through placement, I was able to enhance my technical skills, gain industry insight, develop my networking skills, gain project experience, and improve my personal development. All of these experiences have set a strong foundation for me to pursue my future career in design.