Tom Hamilton, who graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in   Industrial Design and Technology, picked up third place in the Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) competition in 2013.  He is now a senior consultant in Product Design Engineering, at PDD, the product and experience innovation consultancy, and also finds himself seeing things from the other side of the fence as a judge on the DIP panel.

Remarkably, Tom Hamilton’s journey in the world of design and innovation has come full circle. Since he was a finalist in the competition in 2013, when he came third with his project ‘Zebro’, he has now found himself on the DIP judging panel.  Under the brief ‘Saving Lives: Design for Disaster Relief’, Tom produced a flatpack, lightweight leg splint, with a fast-securing system which featured a ratcheting dial mechanism. The innovation was that the whole product was made of radio translucent materials and could stay wrapped around the injury during x-ray scans preventing further injury during moving of the patient.

All DIP finalists receive a short work placement with a sponsor as part of their prize, and Tom went to renowned London design consultancy, PDD, for two weeks.

He says: “The placement was excellent: I got to see how some of the skills I had learnt at university could be used to tackle real world problems. However, the vastness of what I still had to learn also became very clear!

“At the end of the placement I was asked to stay on for a few more weeks to help with a few projects. A few weeks turned into three years.

“I then decided I wanted to see a bit more of the world and found an opportunity with a similar consultancy in Shanghai. I spent three years learning about manufacturing and medical device development with some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world.  At the same time, I learned and experienced the vast diversity of cultures that exist in China and got to travel all across Asia. On my return to the UK, PDD offered me my position back.  It wasn’t a tough decision to accept, as PDD has a great culture and also provides an exhilarating range of projects in which to be involved”.

At PDD, Tom sits within the Product Design Engineering team, which collaborates with the User Experience and Mechanical Engineering teams taking projects from concept all the way through to real products.

Most of his career so far has focused on innovation in medical device design although he sometimes dips into industrial and consumer projects. At a time when healthcare has become the focus of our lives, one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is knowing that he is able to benefit medical professionals and the wellbeing of patients around the world.

“I see my teams’ efforts ultimately making a tangible difference to people’s quality of lives, increasing the success rates of surgeries and improving the kind of products which help medical professionals perform their jobs more safely and efficiently,” he says.

Additionally, through DIP and his work experiences, he has come to appreciate the value of plastics in design.

“The benefits of plastics are vast. The number of different copolymers you can tailor to specific designs are endless and ever evolving. With many companies now understanding the value of sustainable design, demand for sustainable plastics is also increasing, opening the doors for designers to use plastics more safely than before.”

Now his input as a judge on the DIP panel has been welcomed by the committee.

“Having been in the competition and benefited from it I am in a great position to help share my experience and hopefully give encouragement to others.  The knowledge gained from my years in the design industry gives me a great insight when I am looking at new products designed by today’s generation of university students.

“After reviewing their products at the preliminary judging stage, I am really looking forward to meeting this year’s finalists on May 28, when we can ask questions and discover how they came up with their creative solutions.”