DESIGN WHAT IS DESIGN? Issue No 50, July 2009

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1 Issue No 50, July 2009 DESIGN Imagine the world of yesterday, a world without computers, mobile phones or electricity. Then imagine the world of tomorrow where there is again no tangible technology to tap and twiddle, or screens to look at as you communicate with the world. The difference between yesterday and tomorrow could be that designers have invented ways to communicate using the electrically charged power of thought via nano brain implants. This is just one scenario, and in fact neuroscientists are already using nanotechnology to replicate brain processes. The industrial and digital media designers of today and tomorrow are likely to dream up technology we have not yet imagined. Their inventions will have far reaching effects on the ways individuals and societies perceive, think, feel and interact. WHAT IS DESIGN? Designing anything is a process that evolves in response to a human need, problem or desire. A design process develops a plan to make a product, service, system or something more engaging, perhaps a brand identity or a cultural experience such as the celebration of a New Year festival. Creativity and problem solving drive design processes. The designer responds to a client s brief or proposal. He or she analyses the brief, does the research, develops ideas, tests and refines them. The process often involves making a prototype or a working example of the product. Once the prototype has passed tests the product or service is made, marketed and sold, if it is made for commercial purposes. The result could be a shoe, a paper clip, a robot used in microsurgery, an interactive game, or a website that enables people to do banking, pay bills or buy goods. It could be something strange and original that arises out of an urge to play and experiment. The possibilities are endless. People are creating societies, both virtual and real, that are increasingly complex and technologically sophisticated. Designers push the boundaries of invention as they find solutions to an extraordinarily diverse range of problems. Thanks to designers people without limbs can compete in most sports, computer programmes are interactive and user friendly, furniture in the workplace is ergonomic, and households and work places have appliances that store food and help people keep them clean. Design is an integral part of the culture and context within which it operates. Designers learn lessons from the past and speculate about the future. Their designs are part of making tomorrow happen. Interactive, digital services are bringing peoples of the world closer together, making communication instant across thousands of kilometres. The study of design can also plunge deeply into the cultural, psychological, philosophi- cal and political significance of objects, services, systems and rituals, work and recreation. So design links well with many other subjects such as engineering, anthropology, psychology, sociology, film and media studies, communication, marketing, management, history and education. Designers have an obligation to be socially and environmentally responsible. When designing new products and services, responsible designers take into account the impact of their work on people and the environment. For example designers may consider whether the materials, natural resources and energy their products and services use are renewable. The quality and longevity of their product may be significant, and whether it is safe, ergonomic and user friendly. Global initiatives in green manufacturing and eco-design promote the design of sustainable building, electronics, packaging and many other goods and services. Industrial Design Every object we buy is the result of some kind of design process. Industrial designers use their imagination combined with practical problem solving skills and their knowledge of materials to design manufactured products that work, look and feel right for the purpose they fulfil. Industrial designers take into account function and form, and the connection between the product and the user. They may also consider the cultural and Topical coverage of career related issues brought to you by Victoria University Career Development and Employment. Areas covered include how degrees and courses relate to employment opportunities, to life/work planning, graduate destination information and current issues or material relevant to the employment scene. Your comments and suggestions always welcomed.

2 2 CAREER VIEW social significance of the objects they design and the psychology of the end users. While industrial designers do not usually design the mechanical components of machinery such as the gears in cars or electrical circuits that control how they move (engineers do this), their work can affect the mechanical elements through usability design. Industrial designers work with a range of people in other disciplines, such as engineers, marketing experts, architects, other designers, medical professionals, psychologists, in fact anyone who works in an area that is developing new products and systems. Digital technology is being used increasingly in industrial design and manufacturing processes. For example 3D computer modelling allows products to be designed and tested in virtual space/time. Machinery driven by computer software rapidly mass-produces goods that are of a consistent standard. Some of the goods you buy will have been made by digital manufacturing technologies. Thanks to digital design and prototyping software there are also opportunities for people to create and make their own designs in jewellery, personal and household accessories. Media Design Electronic media are an integral part of people s daily lives, and the technology is constantly evolving. Every time you click on a website, receive a promotional or watch a film with special effects you can be sure a media designer has had a part in its creation. These examples however are commonplace. New developments in digital media make this an exciting and challenging area of work. Media designers explore the major channels through which people experience digital technology such as cinematics, telematics, dynamic web design, augmented reality, gaming, interaction design, physical computing and real-time social networks. Media design is about communication and interaction and applies to many fields of work entertainment and interactive television; web-based commerce; educational resources and training; games; business; public sector; environmental science and the virtual simulation of physical environments; virtual tourism experiences and many more. Designers specialising in digital media may design, plan, develop, produce and direct multimedia and film projects. They may design graphics and layout, produce interactive media and create animation for websites and computer games. They keep up to date with the latest software and are quick to learn and design new products. Media designers may work for consultancies that specialise in communication and interaction design, e-business, e-marketing, media planning and strategic planning. They may do conceptualisation (generate creative ideas), visual image, website design/development (standard and dynamic), promotional design, bank ATM interface design, interactive business cards and CD-ROMs, CD / DVD design and many more. Culture+Context Culture+Context explores evolving theories, new concepts and historical ideas that contribute to design within contemporary culture. This emerging field of study recognises the increasing significance of design in our everyday lives, crossing creative, cultural, social and political boundaries. Culture+Context looks at how design influences, and is influenced by, new technologies, shifting geo-politics and global culture. The Bachelor in Design Innovation in Culture+Context is an innovative cross-disciplinary qualification for students who want a professional career involving design, but do not want to pursue the practice-based specialisations. Culture+Context is aligned with the expectations, needs and developments across business, the creative industries and cultural organisations, and will ultimately increase awareness of design as both a commercial and cultural imperative throughout New Zealand and the world at large. Students have the unique opportunity to integrate hands on design exploration in a more theoretical framework and to enhance these studies in design with a minor from a broad range of disciplines such as Psychology, Anthropology, Marketing, Maori and Pacific Studies, Film and Media Studies or Writing to name but few. Students can pursue careers in design-related fields as diverse as advertising, publishing, education, curatorial work, human-centred design activities or in design-led business. In our rapidly changing society, innovative opportunities for students with a Culture+Context specialisation can be found wherever design is being done! WHAT DO DESIGN GRADUATES NEED? Imagination, a passion for design, excellent grades and a demonstrably strong work ethic are essential. Some industry professionals identify particular competencies they look for in design graduates. The following are a selection: drive, ambition, creative and problem solving ability; the ability to ask questions while proposing solutions; self-motivation; prepared to work flexibly to meet deadlines. Concise, powerful (i.e. marketable) creative thinking and communications skills; strong conceptual skills; an understanding of how business, communications and marketing work across the board; excellent visual / aesthetic skills and skills in realising design ideas (crafting,

3 CAREER VIEW 3 technical skills); confidence; pragmatism; patience. During their studies students will develop an important selfmarketing document a portfolio of work that shows creativity and originality and the level of skill to which ideas are realised. While design studies demand full commitment, building some work experience while at school or during summer holidays is useful. Doing so shows hunger or motivation to learn and work in the field of design. Getting a sense of the employment market through making contacts within the industry can make the difference when job hunting. Many employers and clients value the following skills: drawing and being able to sketch ideas on the spot as part of design communication; ability to build models and prototypes; CAD experience and agility with software; technical knowledge about materials, equipment and technologies; resourcefulness in problem solving; business skills and the ability to write business proposals. An ethical attitude to professional work is essential. WHAT SKILLS DO DESIGN GRADUATES DEVELOP? During their degree work students develop a highly marketable set of skills. When writing a CV and preparing for an interview it is useful for graduates to analyse the course work they did. Specific examples from study projects, paid and voluntary work can be used as evidence of the skills and knowledge they are offering an employer. Creativity. The ability to generate original and innovative ideas and follow through is paramount in design. During course work, written assignments or projects in design studios, students learn about the creative process, imagining, developing ideas and testing them in real and virtual worlds. Problem solving. During their degree studies design students learn how to unpack problems and generate viable solutions as a key part of the design process and course work. Analytical and critical thinking skills are necessary for effective decision-making and problem solving. Analysis includes the ability to identify a concept or problem, tease out its components, organise and evaluate information and to draw appropriate conclusions. These skills are acquired through academic work and are a necessary component of the design process. Ideas need to be evaluated and tested for their workability and relevance to a design brief. Communication. Design graduates are skilled in many aspects of communication. These include writing, graphic/visual means and verbal communication. They also practice listening and reading to understand briefs and become skilled at presenting projects to their peers. Teamwork. Designers must understand the requirements of their clients and target markets. Design may involve collaborative work between members of a design team and other professionals such as engineers, manufacturers, trades people, ICT technicians, web and gaming companies, marketers and communications managers. During degree studies students work on projects in groups and learn about the work of other professionals. Digital, electronic and other technology skills. Digital technologies are ubiquitous. Students become skilled in the use of multimedia and other electronic technology as part of their projects and presentations. They also learn to create models for course work using CAD and tangible media. Expertise in using established and up-coming technologies is an advantage in the design world of today and tomorrow. Lateral thinking. Designers think outside the square, making new connections and being open to the unknown. Innovative thinking is needed in finding new solutions to problems and creating new methods of approach. Students develop this skill through their project work. Self-motivation. Exploring ideas, concepts and theories, then making design ideas real in the relevant media requires staying power beyond the thrill of inspiration. Design can require long hours of detailed work as well as the ability to stay tuned to the bigger picture. Self-motivation may also mean to employers that graduates are prepared with an answer to a question rather than asking without first attempting a solution. Graduates gain experience in asking questions and finding solutions through their degree studies. WHERE DO DESIGN GRADUATES WORK? Design graduates can expect to work within an exciting and varied range of organisations both domestically and internationally. Within New Zealand an increasing number of companies are factoring design into their business processes and services. Manufacturers are maintaining design capability while they may be moving manufacturing offshore. Innovative companies are thinking laterally and establishing niche markets for their unique designs. In a global market design can set products apart and achieve a competitive edge. Designers often work in consultancies and contract their services to many different organisations government, not-for-profit sector, other consultancies and companies across all industries manufacturing, architectural, engineering, agriculture, retail, the film industry are a few. The film industry,

4 4 CAREER VIEW particularly in Auckland and Wellington is a growing area of employment for industrial and digital media designers. National, regional and local government bodies contract work out to design consultancies as required. Some may have design capability in house in areas such as publication and web development. Increasingly government agencies aligned with the creative industries are also employing design advisors, facilitators, advocates and promoters. Digital media industries are a rapidly growing and significant international market. New Zealand companies are making New Zealand known as a leader within this market, which includes interactive gaming software, film and Internet animation, post-production and special effects, and television commercial production. [see New Zealand Trade and Enterprise website] Additional examples include online marketing, mobile/wireless, search engines, online audio and online video, web design and development. Advertising agencies employ people with digital design skills. Advertising is concerned with the promotion of goods and services through major mediums including television, radio, the Internet, cinema, magazines, newspapers, video games, mobile phones and billboards. Some agencies specialise in digital media and employ designers to create websites, design graphics, animation and interactive features to create distinctive brand presence for their clients on the Internet. Art galleries and museums employ designers, design critics and design promoters to design and curate exhibitions, mount installations and create interactive media. Educational resource companies and publishers develop many exciting learning experiences using interactive multimedia. Entertainment and media - television, radio, film studios, post-production studios and video production companies recruit digital media designers. Designers also find work with live productions such as theatre and concerts. Jobs in multimedia design can be competitive. Employers seek designers who are well-trained, open to new ideas, and can adapt well to changing trends. Marketing companies and sales and marketing departments of firms in all industry sectors may hire designers with specialist knowledge in these areas to sell designs and products in domestic and overseas markets. Retail companies may hire graduates to design the retail aspect of the business. This is likely to involve visual merchandising, window and store displays, creating experiences for customers that appeal to the five senses, product information, and using technologies such as digital displays and interactive installations. Own business - Industrial and digital media designers are often entrepreneurial and find they are well suited to selfemployment. They contract their services to government ministries and departments, state owned enterprises, regional and local authorities, to corporate, large, medium and small businesses. Teaching - universities employ design graduates interested in a career that combines practice, research and teaching. Graduates considering an academic career may require a PhD to be competitive for junior positions. Teaching at secondary school level is a viable career option for design graduates. Graphic design, visual arts and technology teachers are often in demand. Where there are teacher shortages scholarships may be offered and TeachNZ can advise on this. Teacher training is required, either through a conjoint degree or as a one-year diploma following graduation. Critical or technical writing, reviewing, research - Writing and editing for websites, journals, magazines and newspapers is an employment option that may require further training. Writers with a specialist background in design who can communicate knowledge in a clear, interesting and insightful way to a broad cross section of readers may find a niche market for their skills. Technical writing is another opportunity where specialist knowledge is useful in writing manuals, reports or industrial documents. Academic research into all aspects of design contributes to the evolution of human thought and to the understanding of our species. Research into various aspects and perspectives of design is also an option in academic, industrial and media contexts. Professional Associations Joining an association as an undergraduate or new graduate is a good way to form networks, to begin professional development and hear about companies that are recruiting in areas of interest. The Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) has membership categories for associate students and graduates. To become a professional member candidates must pass examination by their peers. The Institute represents Graphic Design (visual communication), Spatial Design (built environment), Industrial Design (product design, consumer and capital goods), Craft Design (art and craft media), Design Education (the teaching profession) and Design Management. Full information can be found on the Institute s website.

5 CAREER VIEW 5 JOB TITLES Some of these roles may need prior experience and study in related subjects. When applying for jobs it is advisable to clarify exactly what the role entails. Industrial Design In-house industrial designer; design consultant; CAD and digital prototyping designer; self-employed designer/maker; exhibition designer; film prop or set designer; domestic furniture and office systems designer; design and technology teacher; physical interaction and robotics designer; project development manager (hardware); design manager; design in business strategist; interactive interface product designer. Media Creative director; film, video, special FX editor; museum experience or exhibition designer; dynamic web designer; filmmaker; game developer; interaction designer; information architect; content developer; multi-media artist/animator; virtual interaction designer; mechatronics designer; experience designer; videographer; web broadcast content developer; mobile media developer; media critic; curator; TV producer; live media artist; sonic artist; spatial designer; VJ designer; graphic designer; interactive software designer; online account manager. Culture+Context Design and material culture critic/researcher; museum/gallery critic/curator; design manager in cultural organisations; design advocate/promotion; design theory researcher/futurist; product/ system interface usability/designer; design consultant/manager for social issues; design gallery/retail outlet owner/manager. GRADUATE PROFILES Signý Guðlaugsdóttir Producer/On Set Photographer/ Location Scout True North/Blueeyes Productions I have always loved creativity since I was a child and did a lot of art classes outside of school. My interest in photography increased when I was 15 and won a competition for my town so I studied that for one year in New Zealand. I am from Iceland and the education system is quite different over there. We finish high school at 16 and go to college from where we do a diploma and then we do our university degree. I studied Industrial Design for one year and Psychology and Sociology for four years, both in Iceland. At Victoria University I studied for a Bachelor of Design majoring in Digital Media Design. I wanted to do something creative and challenging that included more computer knowledge so Digital Media Design was the perfect solution. During my studies I really enjoyed the freedom. We were allowed to make our own concepts and research our own interests. The lecturers helped direct us towards our interests and to explore our creativity and imagination. They believed in us and gave us a chance to explore new ideas, making us think that anything is possible. I am now a confident designer. I gained a lot of knowledge at university and learned how to create and develop my own ideas, I even learned how to publish them and start my own business if I wanted to. The school introduces you to many different subjects. After graduation is the time to focus, to choose only few and become specialized. As soon as I graduated I got a job working for Weta Digital, a visual effects film company. My studies were the key factor in getting the job, and what I learned is helping me with most things I did in my job. I worked at the reception and did graphic design and references for their current movies. At the moment I am in Iceland, Europe working for True North and Blueeyes Productions. I work as a Producer, On Set Photographer and Location Scout. The advice I would give students is: If you are a creative person, if you want to make your own things and want to learn how to express your ideas and make them become real, and if you are interested in computers, Digital Media Design would be the right choice. You also need to have 50/50 interest in design and computer related work, as all the projects are handed in online. Tiago Rorke Tutor VUW School of Design I enjoyed playing with lego when I was a child, something I still find useful, and did hobby modeling when I was at high school. Art and graphics were the subjects I enjoyed the most and when I came to decide on which university to study at I chose design at Vic because of their impressive end of year exhibitions of student work.

6 6 CAREER VIEW The degree has changed since I was a first year student and I value the many different skills I learned, including how to adapt within a discipline that is constantly changing. Visualisation and drawing skills were important. I learned how to better apply my thoughts to a design process by putting them on paper. Working in the workshop with machinery was also new to me. It was, and is, an amazing facility with a great range of machines that students were constantly exploring and learning about. Along with the workshop, working collaboratively in the design studio was the experience I enjoyed the most. I made friendships there that will last forever. It was a supportive and intensely pressured environment. We were all in it together with so many ideas around that challenged and pushed us further. The design school experience can be very team-oriented as well as self-directed. People learn from each other and also have the freedom to interpret project briefs and do their own thing. Presenting projects to the group and seeing other people s work was also very rewarding. I am now tutoring after spending a semester overseas on exchange at Carnegie Mellon (USA) where I developed a taste for programming and electronics. I plan to resume traveling abroad, and hope to find further research or work within the fields of interaction design and physical computing. My advice to students is to enjoy the projects and collaborative environment and to keep seeking out critique and feedback. Be involved in the design school community as much as possible. Alexia George Teacher Kapiti College Initially my decision to do a design degree was based on the fact that I wanted to teach practical art and technology at high school level. Actually arriving on the campus and putting in all those hours was a huge shock, as I had no idea or expectation of what it would entail. The skills I learned at the School of Design are vast and varied. I learned and developed practical design skills from technical drawing, computer modeling and graphic design, to prototype development in the workshop, right through to skills involving time management, self-confidence, product belief and promotion. I also learned I had the freedom and ability to interpret and develop an original and unique solution to the briefs given. I learned to start wide, to think conceptually, and not to limit my options before I had explored them. I learned that I could be a designer - and that you have to work damn hard to achieve your goals. While doing so you will be inspired by, taught by, critiqued by, ripped to shreds by, and comforted by some of the most talented lecturers, technicians, tutors and peers you will ever have the privilege to work with. The best part of my time studying was the extremes I was pushed to. I loved the way I was taught to think, I loved the conceptual realm we worked in and the way we gave substance to that realm through the thorough and systematic research and justification of every project. We didn t only design, we built our designs. Advice I would give to prospective students - don t expect a free ride, but do expect to come through at the end proud of your achievements and know that you have earned a world class qualification. Since finishing my studies at Victoria I have taken a job teaching workshop technology and graphic design at Kapiti College. I feel that I learned a lot about teaching and learning while studying at Victoria School of Design, not just about what I could teach but how to teach it. And I ensure my students understand that the essence to attaining the best results lies in thorough design process. I intend to do further studies at the School of Design. Jo Lewis Retail Designer Icebreaker I had always enjoyed doing creative subjects such as art, photography and graphic design at secondary school. When I was deciding what to do at university I thought the Bachelor of Design at Vic seemed to have a good balance of the creative and practical. I really liked the design studio environment at the School of Design. The classes were small; you had your own desk and got to know the other students. We all had a passion for what we were doing. There was a lot of content to hand in for assignments, so we had to put in the hours to get good grades. We would work on projects late into the night and be up at 6.00 am the next morning. I learned a lot about concept development through my studies. It was different from doing art at school where you just hand

7 CAREER VIEW 7 in an assignment. We learned how to refine our ideas and talk about how we developed them as we presented our projects to the other students in the design studio. I have been working as a retail designer for Icebreaker for the last two years. Icebreaker is an amazing company to work for, with a dedicated attitude to design, the environment and its staff. My role as the retail designer for the company is very varied, and continues to develop. I work on designs in a range of situations; store-in-store display, outlet stores, stand-alone stores, trade show booths, product launch events, office design, window designs and visual merchandising. Working for a successful global company based in Wellington means many of the projects I work on are overseas. The global nature of the work adds an exciting dimension and keeps the projects varied. As the retail designer I work closely with both the graphic design team and the marketing team. My advice to students nearing the end of their studies is to become proficient at quick hand drawing, as in the real world you ll be more likely to have 10 minutes to sketch an idea, rather than 100 hours to computer render a concept. Also value the staff, as they will continue to help with your design career even after you have graduated. Chris Bisman Industrial Designer Formway Furniture Growing up, I was always intrigued by how things worked so choosing Industrial Design as a career seemed like a natural choice. I enrolled at Victoria University as it offered a broad degree, easily tailored to suit every individual s curiosities. I found it a very complete degree, focusing on the conceptual thinking that is imperative in design whilst still developing all the other skills necessary to enter the workforce. I particularly enjoyed the conceptual challenges that the course encourages. The open briefs question conventional thinking and the results are often incredible. On top of this the practical, or hands on, aspects of the degree are essential and a skill that is hugely valued by employers. After graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Design (Hons) I spent six months tutoring design looking for a company I wanted to work for in New Zealand. I was approached by Formway Furniture and could not pass up the opportunity of working for a truly design led company. From day one I was heavily involved in the research and design of the internationally launched hum office workstation. Hum has won many national and international design awards including the prestigious Stringer at the 2008 Best Design Awards. Currently I am lead designer on Formway s next workstation focusing on new and exciting markets. The skills I learned throughout the Industrial Design course gave me the tools to succeed. With prototyping, computer modeling, research, designing and presenting being part of everyday work, I believe that New Zealand designers need to be skilled generalists and Victoria s Industrial Design course prepares students for this. Greg Saul Design Researcher Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), ERATO User Interfaces for Design (Design UI) Project When I was six years old I wanted to be an inventor. I loved to imagine and make things. I decided to study design when I was at high school and enrolled in the Bachelor of Design. I learned a lot during the degree, a lot about people and how they use and see things, where objects and artefacts fit into our lives and the emotional connections we have with materials and forms. I also learned how forms relate to the body (ergonomics) and how to process materials using machinery. Some 3D printing and laser cutting can produce infinite detail and this blurs the boundaries between form and texture. I enjoyed making and playing with actual materials and objects at design school, talking to different people about problems and processes. There was a framework within which we could explore concepts and experiment through doing, ask questions and find the answers. It was a very open and organic process. I went on to do a semester co-teaching a class on tangible interaction at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States and from there to Japan where I am currently a visiting researcher and robot stylist working with computer scientists on making software that enables people to design artefacts. Advice I would give to students is to follow your passion and believe in it. At the School of Design you will learn a whole lot of skills to make your ideas happen, and learn new things you have no concept of right now.

8 8 CAREER VIEW DESIGN INNOVATION AT VICTORIA Design innovation is vital to enhancing both our cultural and economic wellbeing. While technology inspires and shapes us, it is the role of design to shape technology. It is at the point where the social, behavioural and cultural insights of humans meet technology that truly innovative, unexpected and meaningful designs emerge. Victoria s three-year Bachelor of Design Innovation (BDI) degree gives students opportunities to configure their course of study to suit their individual interests and intended careers. You specialise in one of three areas Culture+Context, Industrial Design or Media Design and you can combine study in design with a minor in other related disciplines. A distinguishing feature of Victoria s School of Design programme is its cross-disciplinary nature where the relationships across Culture+Context, Industrial and Media are investigated and re-defined. It is an intense, integrated programme of study, which embraces investigations of design ideas, principles, histories, practices, strategies and vocabularies of three- and four-dimensional design by challenging the traditional and existing definitions of design. designing by making experimentally-based learning processes, where students develop design confidence through a series of design challenges. All students are encouraged and assisted to develop a strong, individual approach to design while developing a commitment to a particular design discipline. The BDI leads into a two-year Master s in Design Innovation (MDI). The BDI will inspire and open students minds to the exciting new world of career possibilities that design presents, while the MDI offers students the opportunity to focus their studies and take them to internationally competitive levels of professional practice in thought and action. The degree is open-entry into the first year for students with university entrance. No portfolio is required. There is a selection into the second year of the degree, which is based on students grades in the first year. The first year has a structured learning environment, and supports creative exploration and helps develop the discipline necessary for working in a creative, cultural practice. It uses Special thanks to: The School of Design in particular Simon Fraser, Head of School and Programme Director Industrial Design; lecturers Maxe Fisher and Lee Gibson; graduates Chris Bisman, Alexia George, Signy Guðlaugsdóttir, Jo Lewis, Tiago Rorke and Greg Saul; and all those people who contributed to this publication. Career View is published by Career Development and Employment Victoria University of Wellington, Te Whare Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui PO Box 600, Wellington, Tel: or , Fax July 2009 ISSN


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