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A redesign of the standard issue National Rail train ticket and a scheme to keep pubs at the heart of local communities by maximising their existing spatial and social assets are amongst the winning projects in the 2011-12 RSA Student Design Awards scheme.  

Expert judging panels selected 15 winners, with students competing across ten different briefs. Winning entries covered an incredibly wide range of topics – including even a project aimed at improving the sexual wellbeing and relationships of servicemen who have suffered the effects of improvised explosive devices.

Commenting on the winners, the RSA's co-director of Design, Nat Hunter said:

"We were overwhelmed by the high standard of entries this year, and extremely impressed to see how students responded to the social challenges that we set. One of the unique features of the Student Design Awards is that we meet shortlisted students in person, which gives us a very rounded view of each individual, and it is very heartening to meet so many engaged clever and inventive young people who are now ready to go out into the world and use their design skills for positive benefit to society."

Richard Watters, a final year Design for Industry student at Northumbria University has won a placement at internationally renowned design consultancy Priestmangoode for his simplified National Rail ticket design. Instead of the commuter receiving their seat reservation, journey ticket and ticket receipt as three separate, but similar looking tickets,  Richard’s ticket design features all necessary travel information on just one simple ticket, with a separate paper receipt as proof of purchase.

22-year-old Watters was inspired by his own experiences on train journeys where he and other passengers had received large fines for accidentally producing the wrong ticket for their journey.

Commenting on his design, Richard Walters said:

"By analysing the current train ticket I realised why so many people, including myself, struggle to get the right information from their ticket. The current train ticket is a confusing, disorganised mess. The more I researched the ticket types available and the current train infrastructure, the more I realised just how complicated the system is."

The 2011-12 RSA Student Design Awards brought renewed focus to the importance of ingenuity and social benefit in design. The 10 briefs this year covered a range of important social issues, including urban and rural regeneration, patient compliance, intergenerational relationships, the future of education and the workplace in the digital age. The most popular briefs were 'The Good Journey' which asked students to use design to improve commuting and 'Tomorrow's Workplace' which asked students to design the workplace of the future for greater flexibility and better environmental performance.

The RSA Student Design Awards scheme continues to be the paramount design competition for young designers looking to apply their skills to enduring social issues and real-world problems. In 2011-12, approximately 600 students submitted entries from over 65 colleges and universities around the UK as well as a few from international students studying in Europe and Asia. Worth over £60,000 in prize money and work placements, the RSA Student Design Awards provides financial and practical assistance to student designers starting out in their careers.

Past winners of the RSA Student Design Awards include Jonathan Ive, senior vice-president of Industrial Design at Apple;  fashion designer Betty Jackson; Andy Clark, who designed the Heathrow Express train; and Hot Springs radiator designer and founder of Priestmangoode, Paul Priestman.


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