Design engineering education needs to be close to industrial practice, since industry is the final destination of most graduates. For this reason, early engagement with ‘real’ practitioners can be beneficial to educational outcomes. Although much research has been done comparing the skills and approaches of engineering design students and professional practitioners little research to date has looked in detail how this engagement affects the educational process. In this study, we evaluate the impact professional practitioners had on the learning process and the delivery of learning outcomes for a number of units in a specific Integrated Design Engineering (IDE) course. We are reporting data collected by three data sources, feedback from the cohort via surveys of “Start, Stop, Continue” that run at the end of each unit; the official feedback survey of the university; and focus group feedback. Our key findings are that the students appreciate the real design context and passionate engagement the professional practitioner (PP) can offer, when immersed in the teaching process and setting the assignment, but also are critical of the negative effects the PP can have in terms of marking assessments or limiting the creative potential of open-ended projects.