Designing a Better Life

‘Whether it’s a household item or a lifesaving product, everything needs to go through a thought process of how it’s designed and made. If it’s not done well, it can have a huge impact. If it’s a life-saving device, good design really is a matter of life or death.’

Wise words from third year Bachelor of Industrial Design student, Katie Oates, who recently completed a work placement with ResMed, an organisation tackling the issue of sleep disorders.

Former Western Sydney University graduate Brendan Woolsey also began his career with ResMed as an intern following a work placement during his Industrial Design degree. He is now the Senior Global Product Manager, leading a team that’s bringing revolutionary sleep apnoea treatment masks to the market, helping millions of patients across the world.

Sleep apnoea affects 26 per cent of Australian adults and involves regular pauses in breathing during sleep. Sufferers wake up hundreds of times every night, which strains their cardiovascular system and increases the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and depression. ResMed CPAP machines deliver continuous pressurised air via a mask to keep the airway open, and are life-changing for many of their users.

Brendan says his team is the voice of the market. ‘We work with marketing teams around the world to understand [their] needs and translate these into marketing requirements,’ he says. ‘We then work with some of the world’s best medical product development teams, based in Sydney, to design, develop and then commercialise the product.

'Brendan uses the knowledge and skills he learned through his degree every day. ‘A great product is a design that aligns with a business’s strategic direction, meets a specific market need, provides additional value over any competition and shows great return on investment,’ he says. ‘Western’s Industrial Design degree touches on all these areas.’