Richard Hobbs

Student spotlight details

Having already completed two degrees, Richard was surprised to discover he had dyslexia during his second term on the MSt in the History of Design. Without the help and support from our disability advisory service, Richard says he wouldn't have been able to manage his dyslexia so successfully.

'I am by trade an engineer, by nature an educator, and by desire, an advocate of design as a positive cultural force.
I furthered my undergraduate degree in engineering, by reading for a Masters in sustainable heritage with a bias towards historical architecture, at University College London.

'My business and professional career have developed over the years, and I have pursued opportunities in genetic research, microscope design, digital manufacture and engineering innovation. I have built an award-winning digital manufacturing business, I am a trustee for a number of technological and educational organisations, and I have accrued a range of professional and academic qualifications. 

'In business, in education and in life, my experience has been that intellectual and creative skills are not considered as equal players; and not always recognised as mutually dependent. 

'Artists explore the correlation between cultural, historical, natural, environmental, and aesthetic considerations, as do scientists. But academic and professional schools of thought appear to maintain a false divide between the arts and the sciences.
I believe that human history should have taught us that invention, renaissance, revolution, exploration can only be achieved through design, and that as such, it is a fundamental social, political, environmental and cultural influence. Appreciation of design for development in the 21st century is skewed towards its commercial benefits; yet it is still perceived as a soft skill. 

'I wanted to take time out, to learn, to consider, and to debate these intellectual conflicts and to explore how design could be re-affirmed as a social benefit and championed as a force for global benefit, rather than being seen simply as a tool to deliver financial benefit for the few.

'One of the greatest challenges of the course was discovering that I am dyslexic. Having completed an undergraduate degree in engineering and then my Masters, I found it impossible to conceive that I had a learning difficulty. During the second term, my professor noticed that the construction of my prose at times suggested that I might be dyslexic. The University’s disability advisory service was incredibly supportive and helpful during the diagnosis. Without their guidance and support, I would not have been able to understand and develop mechanisms to manage my dyslexia so successfully.

The most rewarding and enjoyable aspect of the course was establishing a new and fresh area of research. Once my research direction and question had been established, the archival research was incredibly rewarding, not only for myself but also, I believe, for those employed at the various companies I visited. Sharing my findings with the employees of each of these businesses gave staff a deeper understanding of their company’s history and heritage. I could see them becoming more engaged and enthused by pride in their workmanship and their company’s success. All of this was made possible by the supportive, challenging and truly inspirational teaching staff who, between them, created a unique learning experience.
'My studies have provided confidence in my intrinsic but previously unsubstantiated belief, that design is actually the greatest human faculty. After a century of celebrating “technology” as the value of applied science, the dawn has risen on a new age – “design” as the value of applied art. 

'Having completed my course, I am establishing a new business, targeting a discrete market, with a fundamental sales proposition based on “design”. I envisage this becoming a swift, profitable success, but beyond that, it will be a replicable model for design–based ventures, providing confidence that this value is the one that resonates in 2020 and beyond.

'I am currently assisting the Government and its agents in developing a strategy to promote engineering to young people, and in addition, I now act as the Vice President for the Heritage Craft Association, which supports intangible heritage crafts and promotes the underlying importance of “design” to culture, craft, industry and innovation.
'The time I have spent on personal development by studying this course has been enlightening and enabling. A great deal of my learning has already been applied in my businesses and, perhaps most importantly, I have taken giant strides forward in developing ongoing opportunities for apprentice employees and in championing life-long learning. Design is the greatest application of human endeavour and I can now promote that belief with knowledge, confidence and competence. I fully endorse the course and would suggest that anyone considering applying, does so without hesitation.'

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