This paper discusses a studio-based lighting design project developed for second year undergraduate students in a four year design degree. The project is intended to develop student understanding of the technological and manufacturing requirements of the professional design process and has been repeated each year over a three year period during which time student responses have been gathered and changes made in response to student feedback. This paper highlights the benefits of real world experiences in the early stage of design education by extending the traditions of hypothetically and conceptually rich briefs, which impacts on the student’s future design process. The lighting project is based on a client brief/s that range from architectural lighting for commercial applications to lighting systems for emergency services. The project includes lighting workshops that explore the technical and ephemeral qualities of light and provides students with hands-on experience of industrial/manufacturing processes. It also extends understanding on the role of collaboration in obtaining a professional outcome, i.e. (producing working prototypes for exhibition). Students are required to source quotations from industry thus affording a tangible outcome and an understanding of the financial implications of their design outputs. Final working prototypes are presented in a public exhibition space, designed and co-ordinated by the student group. The educational benefits of ‘real world’ experiences gained by the students and its impact on their design process is analysed. Student evaluations are discussed in response to the project brief, including their response to working with industry. In addition, how the results have enabled a refinement to the project over time. By embedding opportunities for students to engage in industrial processes outside of the university they are more likely to assume a professional focus, share knowledge and engage in each other’s experiences rather than focus on individual achievements and grades.