Driving the competition

Posted on 19 Jul 2011 by The Manufacturer

Reporting from the Ferrari World Design Contest, Jane Gray asks if manufacturing suppliers are doing enough to sustain and celebrate the industry on which they rely.

As I sit among a humming throng of design enthusiasts waiting for the start of the Ferrari World Design contest 2011, I am struck by the prestige and status that this competition holds. The winner has the chance to complete an internship with the renowned sports car manufacturer.

There are over 140 members of the international press gathered here at the Fiorano track in Maranella, and students from a host of leading universities from around the globe as well as many of Ferrari’s top men and women. There is a palpable sense of admiration for industry here that I can never remember feeling in the UK – even at the recent and excellently delivered National Apprenticeship Awards.

Obviously part of this comes from the power of the Ferrari brand, but this design contest has been running for years without attracting this level of coverage or displaying this glamour in delivery.

So what has made the difference in 2011?

I can only assume that it is the addition of software provider Autodesk to the mix.

Autodesk offers a software package Alias – Ferrari has used it for a long time. For the first time the software company is standing as official sponsors to the World Design Contest. In response to a desire from Ferrari to raise the profile of the competition, Autodesk has thrown considerable resources into its promotion and execution.

This kind of thing is not a first for Autodesk – the company has an active international education organisation closely linked to universities and industry partners around the globe. Autodesk are ubiquitous: their presence as sponsors of competitions like WorldSkills, Formula Student and First Robotics and their dedication to this kind of activity should be applauded. If only more organisations with a vested interest in healthy industrial capability showed the same degree of readiness to put their money where their mouths are and support, not only skills development, but reputational rehabilitation in manufacturing.

Furthermore, Autodesk do not just flash their cash at fun events and competitions. A new partnership with the Institute of Engineering Designers which provides accreditation to Autodesk training courses proves that the company is in the business of supporting industry for the long haul.

The new training centres will open later this year and give both entry level designers and seasoned professionals the chance to hone their skills in the manipulation of engineering technology with relevance to real industrial application – something not always guaranteed in college or university training.

More or this later – I must sign off now to give my attention over to the ceremony which is now beginning.

Jane Gray