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The RSA Pupil Design Awards is a new and exciting annual programme will give students (aged between 12 and 18) in secondary schools across the UK a chance to learn and apply their design skills to real life issues and problems.

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We believe that design learning and thinking should be at the heart of every young person’s education, and that extending the RSA Student Design Awards to a younger audience could be a great way to help schools to inspire new generations of great British designers.

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Art, Manufacture and Commerce) has a rich history in supporting design as a professional discipline since the early 20th Century. One of its best-recognised expressions of this support is the Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) award established in the 1930s to recognise designers of excellence raise the profile of the emerging profession of design and promote the contribution of design in manufacturing and industry. Only 200 designers may hold the title RDI at any time with recipients of the honour including Gordon Russell, Barnes Wallis, Vivienne Westwood, and Marc Newson as well as those responsible for designing the Millennium Bridge, the iPod, the Rolls-Royce jet engine, the Harry Potter film sets and the miniskirt among other things.

On a more practical level, the RSA Student Design Awards, which celebrated its 90th anniversary this year, challenges university students to apply design thinking and skills to address current and pressing social, environmental and economic issues. Dating back to the original RSA led bursaries scheme born in the 1920s, the Student Design Awards is a global curriculum and annual competition which seeks to empower a generation of savvy, employable designers who understand the potential of design to benefit society. It launches a series of design briefs every year to encourage and reward the best emerging talent from universities, with past winners including Richard Clarke (now the Vice President of Global Design for Nike) and Sir Jonathan Ive (now the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple).


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