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Staff photo Thomas Degn

Thomas Degn

Associate Professor in Industrial Design. Degree of Master of Arts in Advanced Product Design. Director for the MFA programme in Advanced Product Design.

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Affiliation
Associate professor at Umeå Institute of Design (UID)
Location
Östra Strandgatan 30 Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå

Background
I started my studies in Denmark at the Aarhus School of Architecture in 1993. In 1996, during my first year of industrial design studies, I visited the Umeå Institute of Design as a part of a joint project collaboration between the two schools. Later that autumn I returned to Umeå as an exchange student and continued my design studies here and graduated from the Master programme of Advanced Product Design in 2000.

Applied Design Research with the Volvo Group
During the first eight years of my employment at Umeå Institute of Design starting in 2000, I worked in an applied research programme entitled Safe and Efficient Transports (SET), first as a researcher and later as the programme organiser. The programme was sponsored and carried out in close collaboration with the Volvo Group and the objective was to identify and conceptualise solutions based on vehicle operators' needs, problems and wishes in relation to commercial transports.

Teaching on since 2004
I started tutoring design students at the Advanced Product Design programme in 2004, first during their term projects and later on during the degree project. In 2008 I took over the responsibility as the Director for the Programme and has since 2009 had this responsibility. 

Promoted based on Pedagogical Merits and Skills
In 2012 I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design based on pedagogical merits and skills. Below is a quote from the Faculty's employment committee's motivation (in Swedish):
“Anställningskommittén finner specifikt, vid en bedömning av Degns pedagogiska skicklighet, att han under en lång period innehaft ett flertal pedagogiska ansvarsposter, att han med ständig återkoppling till designvärlden utanför universitetet på ett mycket förtjänstfullt sätt genomfört en omfattande och välreflekterad utveckling av mastersprogrammet Advanced Product Design och att han i sin ansökan redovisar en pedagogisk grundsyn och ett engagemang som styrker att hans arbete med studenter är ytterst genomtänkt och framgångsrikt.”

Awarded with the Faculty of Science and Technology's first 'Samverkanspris'
In 2012 I was as the first recipient of the bi-annual awarded prize for cooperation with the surrounding community (Samverkanspris) from the Faculty of Science and Technology. The Faculty jury's had the following motivation:
“Besides building a network of cooperation partners, such as working industrial designers and consultants participating in the education as supervisors, teachers and examiners, Thomas Degn has initiated and conducted a large number of cooperating projects with external partners within the programme. He has established contacts worldwide, and also with businesses and organisations in Umeå and the northern region who have little previous experience of working with industrial design, giving them valuable skills and knowledge they can use to develop their products and services.”

Acknowledged as Qualiified Teacher
In 2015 I was acknowledged and included in the at that time newly introduced pedagogical qualification system at the Umeå University as a Qualified Teacher. One of the two external reviewers had the following motivation: 
“Thomas Degn presents his educational documentation in a comprehensive, well-structured teaching portfolio and CV. His experience and well-designed educational activities are illustrated with concrete examples, reflective sections and evidence from student evaluations and colleagues' observations.”

What I do at UID
My main area of work is to plan, administrate, develop, and contribute to the teaching at the Advanced Product Design programme on daily, yearly and strategic level.
The Advanced Product Design programme is a practical, hands-on and project-centric education. Besides the educational exploration of industrial design through smaller 3-5 week skill-based courses, I also oversee the 10-week term projects carried out at the programme and I have since 2008 been responsible for more than 38 term project collaborations (15 ECTS) with international, national and local companies like: Cisco, Philips, Ericsson, Getinge, Kärcher, FLIR, Husqvarna Group, Logitech, Umeå Energi, Nokia, Kalmar, ABB, Atlas Copco, Bosch, Laerdal, LKAB, Dräger, FM Mattson Mora Group and Whirlpool. Below is a quote from Umeå Institute of Design's founding Rector Bengt Palmgren:
“During his time as a Programme Director he has managed collaboration with numerous partners – local organisations as well as national and international companies – in both Term Projects and in Degree Projects at Master’s level. By this, in combination with his deep experiences from applied research in col­laboration with industrial and non-commercial partners, Thomas has proven an outstanding ability to collaborate with the surrounding society.”

Examples of course and project results
Examples of both course and project results from the MFA programme in Advanced Product Design can found on our Projects site.

Talk to me about:
Conceptual industrial design
Studies and teaching of physical product design
Award winning product design
User-centric design
The exploratory design process
Collaboration with external partners
Rapid ethnography
Creative group methods and group ideation
Sound design in industrial design
Visual storytelling of product design