Sam Prosser-Roberts

Sam Prosser-Roberts Mechanical Engineering Intern, Invetech
Bachelor of Design + Engineering

A desire to impact the Healthcare industry, a love of making and respect for the realities of product development led Sam Prosser-Roberts to a Double Degree in Design and Engineering.

Explain why you choose to study Industrial Design at Monash?

Design has always been a part of my life. In primary school, a friend and I used to draw sports stadiums instead of doing our other classes. We both aspired to become stadium architects.

Progressing through school these aspirations transitioned towards Industrial Design, helped by studying Design and Technology in High School. I like getting my hands dirty, woodworking and fixing broken things around the house (a lot of those things came from my dad) so Industrial Design seemed like the perfect fit.

The other class I excelled at was Maths, so I wanted to utilise these skill sets together. Luckily Monash offered the double degree in Industrial Design and Engineering.

What’s the best part of studying Industrial Design at Monash?

The studio lecturers! You get to know the lecturers really well, partly because of the small studio classes and the length of time you spend with them. You constantly get feedback and that ultimately enhances the quality of your project.

The other thing I appreciated from Industrial Design was the freedom that Robbie Napper, the Course Coordinator, provided me when I undertook an exchange to the Netherlands. He encouraged me to use the exchange as a time to enjoy my studies and allowed me to pick classes like Virtual Reality design that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

Image: PillBank designed by Sam Prosser-Roberts is an Automated Pharmaceutical Dispensing Machine with the aim to reduce drugs and packaging going to landfill and to increase operational efficiency in the hospital wards.

How has studying Industrial Design at Monash helped you develop as a designer and how has it influenced the way you approach engineering?

The double degree has benefits you wouldn't think of before commencing.

Industrial Design helped me become a better engineer, making me realise the importance of designing for the user.

Likewise, Engineering made me a more practical designer, understanding the limits of current technology while also providing me with the knowledge of what's to come in the future.

What are your career aspirations and what product would you like to invent?

My career aspirations all focus around MedTech.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by friends and family in the healthcare industry. They provide me with the insights that drive me to want to make an impact in this space.

I've been working as an Undergraduate Engineer in a Healthcare Engineering consultancy involved in breakthrough technologies in diagnostics and new cancer therapies. This has gotten me excited about the future of healthcare.

I also have a passion for reducing unnecessary waste in healthcare, which led me to design PillBank for my final year Graduate Exhibition. PillBank is an Automated Pharmaceutical Dispensing Machine to reduce drugs and packaging going to landfill while also increasing operational efficiency in hospital wards and removing human error.

Sam's passion for reducing unnecessary waste in healthcare led him to design the PillBank for his final year Graduate Exhibition.

What’s your design process? 

I always start with sketching, even before I know exactly what I want to design. It gets my hand moving and allows my brain to flow and generate ideas. Next step is the brainstorm, I fill a whole page full of words with the general order of a MindMap (something mum always tried to drill into me as the first way to solve a problem).

From this, I can start to create groups of similar ideas, which in turn are the basis for my concepts. I'm not a big fan of using technology in these initial phases so all my ideation is done with pen and paper (plus a few N0 Copics here and there). With the basis of a final idea I like to CAD up a block model, take screenshots in different orientations and then print this off to sketch over. This allows me to hone in on the details without worrying about the full form.

The prototyping stage (arguably my favourite) follows. The prototype starts with maquettes of the form, sometimes I'll build some electrical circuits to show the functionality and also make some of the detailed sections.

Being an engineer means I'm constantly thinking about whether it's manufacturable or not, which probably hinders my creativity but allows me to push the boundaries of what’s achievable while actually being able to make it.

What two pieces of advice would you give future students wanting to study industrial design?

  1. Work out what you want to get out of the degree. It's quite a self-motivated learning approach so you only get out what you put in.
  2. The basic skills of being a designer are invaluable and so often ignored. Being able to draw in perspective, balancing your line weights, proper shading processes, attention to detail and care in putting together a simple and well-designed folio is important no matter what the task is. My advice is to make sure that you always keep these things in the front of your mind as they separate the great designers from the rest.