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Where are they now?

2015 DIP winner, Alex Bordino, tells us what he is doing now, and how winning helped drive his upwards trajectory.

“DIP pushes students to think commercially about their designs…. Without it my career journey in design would have been much harder…”

Entering the DIP competition and winning have changed my life and enhanced my career prospects exponentially, according to 2015 winner Alex Bordino, who is now an industry consultant and is working with a leading supplier of 2D and 3D CAD design software.

Alex, who patented the product with which he won the DIP competition, stresses the benefits of the commercial know-how he accrued through being encouraged to think about the marketability of his product as well as its design and functionality using plastics.

“DIP pushes students to think commercially about their designs, and winning it certainly enhances the credibility of your work, showing the value you can bring to future companies,” he says. “Without DIP, the contacts made and the media exposure, the career journey I have made so far in design would have been much harder.”

Alex’s DIP winning product, a Soft Ice S Pump was a redesign of the stainless steel pump mechanism fitted to soft ice cream machines, which turns liquid ice cream into aerated, whipped ice cream.

His ability to think laterally and identify the potential for improvement in a bulky mechanism which had remained unchanged for many years, was commented upon by the judges. The product was also recognised in the Plastics Industry Awards, with Alex being nominated in the Young Designer of the Year category.

His competition successes inspired him to produce another acclaimed product during his fourth and final year as a product designer at Nottingham Trent University. During this year, he worked with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue to come up with a working prototype for a smart fire fighter helmet, which mitigates against the leading cause of fire fighter deaths worldwide – heat stress.

The helmet had novel features, including notifying wearers when their core temperature is rising to dangerous levels, and sending telemetry signals to incident commanders, as well as incorporating strobe lighting and an active gyroscope which engage should inactivity be detected – the signal of a downed firefighter in a fire fighting scenario.

He exhibited the helmet at the New Designers show in London, and also made the final of the Creative Conscience Awards 2017, in the Product Design category. Also in his final year at university, Alex went on to develop a light weight ice axe for extreme ice climbing, with Hydro, and a smart shelving system for multipack crisps, with Pepsico and Tesco, complete with two apps.

Alex says: “My main project for the year was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but the DIP competition and experience certainly sharpened my toolset, allowing me to see it through.

“One of the key skills that DIP gave me was the awareness and experience of obtaining intellectual property for my award-winning design. At such a young age I consider that an invaluable experience and it has certainly enriched my capabilities as a commercially aware product designer.”

During his gap year at university, Alex secured a placement at Stormsaver, the UK market leader in the design and manufacture of rainwater harvesting systems, where he enjoyed a full-on role working within a small design team, being given the chance to take on a wide range of responsibilities, including design development.

“I was certainly very grateful for winning the DIP competition, as my project definitely impressed the founder and CEO of Stormsaver at my interview,” Alex continues. “I enjoyed my year so much and was very sad to leave.”

Alex highlights his week-long visit to DIP headline industry sponsor, Covestro, in Germany, as part of his prize. There he was invited to K Fair, the biggest plastics expo in the world, where he took part in student workshops to discuss different applications for plastics.

He also values his connections with the Worshipful Company of Horners, of which he has become a member – another part of his prize for winning DIP. This City livery supports the polymer industry and science education, encouraging young and talented students to embark upon successful careers.

He says: “I still regard this as the greatest honour of my career so far. I was incredibly humbled to have been made an associate. Supporting the plastics industry, especially with the environmental issues that we face and the push for a circular economy is something I am very passionate about. Of course the banquets and occasional Chinook flight are also a plus!“

Since graduating, Alex has gone from strength to strength and his list of credentials is impressive.

He secured a design role straight after graduation, as a product design engineer for Brett Martin, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful independent manufacturing companies, where he was pitched straight into a hands-on role of new and existing product development and implementation of designs to manufacture.

He says: “The recruitment process for this job was quite gruelling and long, but the DIP win on my CV certainly gave me an edge. I haven’t yet been for a job interview where someone wasn’t impressed with that project and what the design has achieved.”

From Brett Martin, Alex made a significant change and took a job as a manufacturing application engineer for Cadspec, one of the UK’s leading suppliers and consultants of Autodesk 2D and 3D CAD software. Here, he consults and supports design and engineering companies across all spectrums to incorporate and utilise Autodesk manufacturing and design software. He also supports sister companies, such as the 3D Print Academy, providing Stratasys certified training in additive manufacturing processes – a new and fascinating specialism which he has enjoyed exploring.

Over the past year, Alex has embarked on independent consultancy in the fields of design and plastics, and of course his experience with DIP and his prize placements have helped greatly in this area. He is an advisory board member of The Future of Packaging, an online collaborative advisory panel, and an advisory board member of Biodegradable Plastics in the Environment, which identifies key technologies, companies, trends and examples which are delivering environmentally degradable plastics in the market.

Alex concluded: “There are so many different avenues to explore in the world of design and plastics and my experiences with DIP and in the workplace have truly opened my eyes as to what is possible.”

To find out a little more about Alex’s current role click here to see an interview he gave with the 3D print bureau at a tradeshow talking about additive manufacture.