The transformation of DMEM

It feels as if it was only yesterday that I, Mamta, joined my product design course in the department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management (DMEM).

What struck me was the openness and modern environment of the department, it had such an innovative and dynamic feel - I knew straight away that I wanted to join the department.  Moreover, what struck me about the staff that I met that day back in 2000 was how organised, systematic and disciplined they all were – they knew exactly what was going on, who was working on which project or research development and the next steps for the future.

I loved it – it worked for me, it was logical yet flexible.

I spent a great year at the department working with international staff and students learning about product sustainability and project management techniques but the area that I enjoyed the most was operational management which covered multiple topics from six sigma and lean manufacturing to kaizen techniques. Believe it or not these are skills that I have used ever since, both in my personal and work-life. Being organised and finding the most effective way of doing things is just second nature to me and something that I believe is essential to any general business player.

So what has changed in the department over the last 18 years?

I recently came back to visit the department which provided me with the opportunity to get a tour of the facilities and to catch up with some of the staff I knew from my student days.

My tour of the facilities really exceeded my expectations, everything was so fresh and contemporary. With a £40M investment in the building it is clear there have been some dramatic improvements. The study areas have been modernised with break out areas for project and collaborative work, a kitchen, a high end quiet study area plus an amazing prototype area. What was also great to see were the computer suites and the laptop areas so students feel like they have their own little office space to work in.

However, it is an engineering department and it is the technology that runs throughout the department that is truly impressive - prototyping, CAD systems, 3D manufacturing and general engineering tools that they have for both staff and students to use. These facilities and equipment were available when I was a student but I can see a dramatic improvement.

Many of these facilities that are available to the students aren’t even as openly accessible in many global companies, so I believe that DMEM students are truly being prepared for life in the ‘real world’. Technology has certainly moved on since I was a student in 2001 but it is great to see that the department has progressed alongside these advancements and is still at the cutting edge of research and teaching.

The department does a truly brilliant job of mimicking the reality of what happens in industry (even going above and beyond what is available in industry).

The department itself spans across a number of floors – it is also wonderful to see the design engineering work that current and past students have achieved on display. This has always been the case and as always the standard of work continues to be exceptionally high. I found it inspiring and heart-warming to know that these will soon be the ones in industry that will be taking up the next big engineering and management roles in global firms. Having tried myself to recruit for good quality engineers in industry I can say it is difficult to find individuals that are creative, technically minded yet also have good management and people skills – what is clear is that the majority of graduates from DMEM tick all those boxes.

So what hasn’t changed?

The views! Now that I'm living in London I miss the stunning Scottish scenery.

DMEM is based on the 7th floor of the James Weir building, at such a height it's impossible not to take in the very Glaswegian mix of modern and historic buildings that line the skyline. For me it is a reminder of Glasgow’s past, present and future – the engineering history the city has but also how modern and continually transforming it is.

This translates to the work being done at DMEM, using some well-established engineering and manufacturing techniques coupled with modern thinking - the team have always been able to keep their thinking fresh and up-to-date.

The Future

I have seen the department of DMEM flourish, going from strength to strength. The staff are working on cutting-edge research and are well-known nationally and internationally in their chosen fields. Their alumni work for a range of firms from successful home grown start-ups straight through to well-known firms like Lego, Nike, Dyson, Hasbro etc. The academic ratings, the massive investment in the department and the calibre of both staff and students speaks for itself – they are all inspiring in their own right.

From a personal point of view, I am thrilled when I hear from my former classmates or lecturers. It really is joining a community when you join DMEM - I feel proud to call myself a ‘DMEMer’.  

I do hope that one day that I will be able to become a visiting lecturer for the department, inspiring the next generation of engineers would be very rewarding. I had a very positive, career enhancing and exciting experience in DMEM, I don’t think I realised it back them but it really shaped me and prepared me for the future.

DMEM has changed a lot in 18 years, as have I, but what hasn’t changed is the passion, determination and drive in making the engineering world better for the next generation. 

I look forward to seeing what happens over the next 18 years!  


- Mamta Singhal joined DMEM to study MSc Integrated Product Design in 2001 and has since worked with companies including Hasbro, Dyson and Mars Chocolate.