Star class of ’83 back at university 30 years after graduating

A director at Google, a former fighter pilot and a design chief from Volvo Cars were amongst some of Coventry University’s highest-flying alumni who were back on campus at the weekend, 30 years after graduating.


Coventry University - Industrial Design alumni 1983

(L-R): Coventry University industrial design alumni Ian Ferguson (British Airways captain and former RAF fighter pilot), David Ancona (design director at Volvo) and Steve Rogers (director of user experience at Google).

The group – all graduates of the former Lanchester Polytechnic’s famous industrial design courses – gathered at the School of Art and Design’s annual Degree Show on Saturday and met some of the University’s current design students whose work is being exhibited to the public this week.

One of the returning alumni was industrial design graduate Steve Rogers, who is now the director of user experience for Google in Europe and is the man responsible for the slick user interface on many of the company’s flagship products, including Gmail.

Steve was also head of production and development at the BBC during the corporation’s high-profile overhaul of its digital services in the early naughties, leading on the design and usability of its new website.

Commenting on his return to Coventry, Steve said:  “It’s fantastic to be back in Coventry, and particularly great to see everyone I studied with – we all picked up just like old times! It’s also very inspiring to be here at the Degree Show again. I got my first job straight out of the Degree Show, it’s very valuable and allows you to crystallise everything you’ve learned.”

And would he have any advice for students graduating this year?

“I would say use your university experience to learn how to create, how to think and how to apply that process to solve problems, because the area you end up working in might not even exist today. The first time the internet was used was about the same time we all graduated, so when I was a student the concept of working for a company like Google was impossible.”

Amongst the other alumni returning to Coventry for the thirtieth anniversary of their graduation was Ian Ferguson, a British Airways captain and former RAF fighter pilot, and transport design graduate David Ancona, who established – and is director of – Volvo’s car styling studios in Barcelona.

David said: “This is the first time I’ve been back to Coventry since graduating in 1983, and it’s changed big time. I have lots of fond memories of this place and of the University. I remember for my own Degree Show project I created a model petrol tanker, and come show time I’d worked so hard on it I was found slumped over it fast asleep!”

Coventry University’s Industrial Design Degree Show is open to the public until Thursday 6th June, and can be viewed in the Maurice Foss building on Cox Street, city centre. Visit for more information.