Design Thinking and Communication at Northwestern University

December 5, 2012

Over the past couple of months, Michael Prince (President of Beyond Design) and Jody Libman (Owner of Trianon Development/Moments Notice Services) have been working with the DTC (Design Thinking and Communication) class at Northwestern University to solve a real-world problem through design and engineering. In DTC, students work with real clients to solve authentic problems while simultaneously learning to communicate with a variety of audiences.

The students in Michael and Jody’s class were asked to design a mechanism (non-electric) that will open public restroom doors without the use of your hands and can easily be retrofitted to a variety of door types. It also needed to assist the handicapped in entering and exiting public restrooms. The idea behind the project is to help prevent the spread of illnesses by not having to touch a door handle that so many others have already touched. It is a partial solution to the much larger issue of germ transfer in public establishments.

DTC Class at Northwestern University

In order to find a solution that would solve this problem the students were asked to conduct research, including interviews and user observation in public restrooms located in airports, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. Following the research, they brainstormed ideas, created storyboards, refined their concepts, and fabricated prototypes to better explain the functionality of their concept. The students were also asked to create a manufacturing and cost analysis. Michael and Jody worked with the students throughout the program to answer questions and provide insight from professionals in the design and construction industries.

Michael Prince introducing the project to the DTC class

This weekend at the Segal Design Institute’s DESIGN EXPO, the students from DTC will be presenting their work. Saturday, December 8th, will be the Project Fair for all DTC students to show their project work from 12-4pm. Friday, December 7th, from 5-9pm, will be an open house where students can showcase their portfolios.

Anyone is welcome to attend. The information is below:

Design Expo
Ford Company Engineering Design Center
2133 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL

Friday, December 7th, 5-9pm: Graduating students from undergraduate and graduate design programs within Segal will share their portfolios and design experiences.

Saturday, December 8th, 12-4pm: DTC projects will be featured in the halls of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center.

You can find more information here.

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