BMW Group/QUT partnership grows wings

The BMW Group + QUT Design Academy was officially launched last night at QUT’s Gardens Point campus and is expected to soon become an innovation hot spot for real world projects.

Dr Rafael Gomez from QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty will head up the facility and said many students would benefit from the partnership.

“Our relationship with BMW Group has already seen 25 QUT students undertake paid internships with the global Fortune 100 company in its Munich headquarters,” said Dr Gomez.

QUT’s Dr Rafael Gomez and Professor Mandy Thomas with BMW Group’s Jimmy Nassif and QUT graduate Dylan Sheppard, now employed by BMW Group – at the launch of the BMW Group + QUT Design Academy.

“Those students have had the extraordinary opportunity to work across a range of BMW Group departments, using cutting-edge emerging technologies such as VR, AR, robotics, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and big data to develop world-first solutions to real world problems. Now we have a home here in Brisbane, which is brilliant.

“The new BMW Group + QUT Design Academy will open the door to many more design students and allow QUT to work closer with the BMW Group on advanced R+D projects and higher-degree research.”

The way was paved for the academy last year when a memorandum of understanding was signed by Professor Mandy Thomas, QUT’s Creative Industries’ Executive Dean, and BMW Group.

“Students working in the new academy will be given the technical skills and build the right personal attributes needed to undertake paid internships in Munich,” said Professor Thomas.

“It will also facilitate a postgraduate research program that aligns with BMW Group and QUT’s areas of interest and expertise which will see our academics work closely with BMW Group staff.”

Photo courtesy BMW Group

Dr Gomez said there had been collaboration between QUT’s Industrial Design program and BMW Group, Munich, since 2016. In 2019, the relationship had developed to allow QUT students to work at two new labs in Munich – autonomous systems and robotics.

Jimmy Nassif, Head of IT Planning Systems at BMW Group, said the collaboration was equally beneficial to BMW Group.

“It’s a perfect match really. BMW Group’s mission is to be the world’s best and QUT is the university for the real world,” he said.

“We have found QUT industrial design students to have the highest level of skills along with the ability to think outside the square when it comes to problem solving. They know how to adapt, are creative and ready to embrace new technology.”

One such QUT industrial design student who undertook an internship with BMW Group in Munich is Dylan Sheppard, Design Institute of Australia Queensland Graduate of the Year in 2017. He now has a lifelong contract with the company.

Last year QUT Vice-Chancellor Margaret Sheil visited the BMW Group headquarters to sign a memorandum of understanding between QUT and BMW Group and under which the design partnership falls.

Its aim is to develop joint projects between BMW Group and QUT, an internship program for QUT students across different faculties to undertake research projects in BMW Group facilities in Germany and elsewhere, higher degree research, staff exchanges, research collaborations and more.

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