“I now give a lot of thought to how problems can be solved in innovative ways”: Masulani’s stories in the IDE Program

Masulani Bokola, an industrial design engineering masters’ student of the first cohort International Design Education (IDE) Program, a joint initiative by the United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (UN Technology Bank), World Eco-Design Conference (WEDC) and Zhejiang University, Ningbo (ZJU, Ningbo), shared with us his experiences how this Program has changed him and gives his advice to prospective students. 


Born in 1998 in Zambia, Masulani Bokola is from a family of creative minds. His father is an art teacher, and his mother is a fashion designer. “Being able to communicate and express in a creative and innovative way is something I am fond of. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronics Engineering in Huzhou University, China, I felt the industrial design was the best balance to bring together my knowledge of engineering and my creative/innovative side.” Masulani told us. “Of course, studying at one of the best universities in China and the world at large is a huge bonus.” Last year, he stood out from the applicants of the world's 46 least developed countries in the admission of the IDE Program and was granted a full scholarship. 


As one of the first cohort of IDE students, Masulani affirmed his decision of joining the Program and sees a designer growing in him. “I have become more aware of everything around me and I almost can’t observe a product without thinking about how it came to be or how it can be made even better. I’m also more aware of the problems everywhere I go, whether they directly affect me or not. I now give a lot of thought to how problems can be solved in innovative ways,” he has discovered.    


While developing his CAD software skills, prototyping skills and learning the modules in graphic design, UX/UI design, product design and architectural design, Masulani also enjoyed the method of teaching in classroom: “the teachings are not only with textbooks but also with the latest happenings and discoveries in the world of design and from real life experiences of our professors. I also like the accessibility I have to my professors and their availability to my educational needs.” 


For the prospective students of IDE Program 2022, Masulani highly encourages them, especially for students from different backgrounds: “The best thing about the Program is that it does not require students from any specific field. It is open to all people of various backgrounds and professions. Industrial design builds problem solvers, and problems are found everywhere. So both humanities and science students can study industrial design to help solve problems in their respective fields.” 


Masulani also wants to share his idea on studying and living abroad with prospective students: “Being a designer requires you to expose yourself to different environments and people of different cultures, languages and backgrounds. We don’t just design for ourselves, we design for the world. Making your first step into the outside world is one of the prerequisites for an industrial designer.” Masulani adds, “Ningbo is a melting pot of people of different cultures, it provides many opportunities for young and ambitious designers no matter where they come from.” 


For prospective students who wish to receive a full scholarship as Masulani did, he gave his application tips: “Authenticity is the key, be yourself. No two people are alike, your originality and acceptance of who you are is what makes you stand out.” He further encourages them: “Ordinary people like you and me can change the world. You just need to take a step forward to learn so that you will be able to see problems in a way others don’t see. This program will help you become a good problem solver and unlock your potential.” 


In the prospects of Masulani, industrial design is an emerging industry in least developed countries. As the manufacturing industry is growing, many companies are eager to recruit innovative design talents to improve the quality, user experience and economic value of their products.  


The IDE Program is dedicated to providing world class industrial design education to cultivate the needed talents in least developed countries. A creative designer who has skills in CAD software, digital design, graphic modelling, 3D printing, research, product testing, presentation and customer service will be able to advance their career in the industry and make an impact. The study abroad experience will also build a designer’s capacity to leverage broader resources and experience to solve problems. After the completion of the IDE Program, the graduates will be able to work in the design industry to create products for local and international communities, or to pursue goals in other areas, such as utilizing their interdisciplinary advantages to bridge the gaps of the utilization of emerging technologies between developed countries and least developed countries.  


As for Masulani, he shared with us his career planning: “I hope to gain some experience working as a designer, perhaps also further my study to PhD level. Eventually, I intend to build a design firm in my country, Zambia, where young designers can take opportunities to create products to solve problems locally and internationally.” 


The last word Masulani would like to share with his future schoolmates: “Don’t be hesitant to apply because you think you can’t draw or use CAD software, these are just tools. If you feel you are a problem solver at heart, this is the place for you.” 



The 2022 IDE Program application period is open until 31 March 2022. Female applicants are highly encouraged. For more information and application details please visit here.