U25 Member – Ross Whillis

By Makerversity

We catch up with young designer and U25 member who benefits from Makerversity’s free desk programme.

Hi Ross, how did you end up at Makerversity?

I was encouraged to apply for the under 25 membership at Makerversity after my final year university project gained coverage during the James Dyson Awards after making a spot in the international top 20. I was desperate to continue developing the project and was given a tour of the space. I was instantly impressed with the setup and the facilities available to members. It was clear that there was a huge opportunity for collaboration and development of my skill set. I applied for a place on the under 25 scheme and was granted full-time access to the facilities twinned with expert advice.

What projects did you work on prior to becoming a member?

Prior to joining Makerversity I was working for a contemporary furniture design company where I worked on a range of tailor-made furniture projects. The majority of the projects I was involved with were high-end residential kitchen projects. Recently I have also been involved in some retail and point of sale display design which involved a lot of sheet metal work and acrylic fabrication processes.


What project are you working on at the moment?

The opportunity to have all of the [Makerversity] facilities at my disposal and progress with the leaf collector project was always my objective. I have been experimenting with different rapid prototyping techniques to validate my assumptions and test various concepts. It has been a trial and error process. The facilities have allowed me to experiment with a variety of materials and learn different prototyping processes I would not have otherwise been exposed to. I have been designing and testing various mechanisms to develop the concept with a focus on manufacturing feasibility, assembly time and practicality.

What tools do you use while you’re working at Makerversity?

At the moment I am never too far away from the CNC machines. I am working on several new components for the latest version of the leaf collector prototype which need to be manufactured accurately. However, I use all of the traditional workshop tools on a day to day basis. The large laser cutter is also useful and I have used the 3d printers in the past when I have had to run trials to test proof of concept.


Have you worked with any other members on your project?

Recently I have been offered advice and insight into the project from Product Instrument’s Matt Batchelor and Nick Paget at Product Instrument Ltd. The discussions I have had with their team have been helpful in steering the project in the right direction. That said, If I ever need advice or guidance in a specialist area there are often many individuals within the Makerversity network who are more than willing to offer their help.

What’s coming up for you?

I hope to begin product testing and user trials with several potential user groups in the near future. It is important for the [leaf] project to take a user-centred approach and it will have a significant impact on the direction of the project.

Any advice for young designers?

I would always encourage young designers to continue learning and making mistakes. Always question your ideas and make full use of any tools which are at your disposal. It is critical to learn and develop new techniques which will inform your decision making and this will feedback into your design process.

Thanks Ross for taking time out the workshop to chat.

U25 Free desk programme



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