Smart Design is the key to a healthier, happier Australia

Friday, 27 October 2017


Impactful health solutions will be at the fore of a new scholarship program supported by the University of Newcastle (UON) and leading health insurer nib, encouraging up-and-coming designers to play a role in developing positive and lasting solutions to nationwide health issues.

Scholarship program representatives
(L-R): Brendan Mills (nib), Mario Minichiello (UON), Glynn Thomas (nib)

Supported by grants of up to $10,000, five UON students in their honours year will have the opportunity to complete a research project exploring the role user focused design plays in promoting healthy lifestyle behaviours.

UON Professor in Design, Professor Mario Minichiello, said the new initiative was a fantastic step forward in helping support bright designers develop solutions for the health issues of tomorrow.

“Our students have incredible skills which have the potential to play a key role in the future of healthcare by designing an engaging and accessible user experience.

“What’s fantastic about this opportunity is that not only does it provide students with real world experience, but sets them up with great contacts, as well as boost their self-confidence in the workplace.

“Thanks to nib’s support, recipients have access to industry leaders and cutting edge technology so they can effectively apply their skills to the real world,” Professor Minichiello said.

The new scholarship program is a continuation of the long and successful partnership between UON and nib, with a focus on work integrated learning (WIL), established by Associate Professor Mark Roxburgh and nib’s IT teams.

nib Chief Information Officer, Brendan Mills, said the project reflected nib’s passion for driving innovation in healthcare, particularly helping to deliver improved health outcomes for customers.

“We know that there are an estimated 680,000 potentially avoidable hospital admissions every year. The key to truly preventing such hospitalisations is behavioural change,” he said.

“We believe that user centred design research can play a key role in helping better understand the behaviour of health consumers to help inform the design of strategies to encourage customers to take a more proactive approach to their health care.

“We recognise the fantastic skills of UON design students and look forward to working together to create innovative solutions to some of our health challenges,” Mr Mills said.

The initiative will be delivered through the University of Newcastle’s Smart Design network under the newly formed School of Creative Industries.

Head of School of Creative Industries, Professor Paul Egglestone said the initiative was a wonderful example of how the new school aims to collaborate with industry.

“This is a very exciting project and a mark of our deepening connection and collaboration with our industry partners that’s set to be a hallmark of the direction our new School of Creative Industries is headed in,” said Professor Egglestone.

This interdisciplinary initiative spans the University’s creative industries, engineering, IT, health and physics disciplines.