Northwestern University Design Thinking Communication Fall Term 2021
I traveled to Northwestern University in Evanston on Saturday, December 4, 2021 to attend the final team presentations for a sponsored project. The skies were clear with minimal traffic as I made my way “around the horn” of Lake Michigan and northbound through Chicago on Lake Shore Drive. The conditions were ideal for my homecoming to campus following almost two years of hybrid and/or remote collaboration resultant from the pandemic.
We embarked on the sponsored project in August 2021 with a ten-week timeline for the three teams to develop solutions to this problem statement…
K-6 Study at Home Solutions
Young students are challenged with study at home and organization of homework, electronics, and artwork supplies. Quick packing, unpacking and organization of a wide range of materials and electronics is repetitive and wastes time and energy. Research, sketch, mockup and develop a concept including a working prototype for a compact, flexible, modular storage solution that provides organization, power charging and ease of use.
We developed Freddy Furniture USA – Kids Study from Home Desks as a flexible desking solution engineered to ergonomic standards for K-6 students.
Conor Fredricks, our lead industrial designer and I presented an overview of the problem statement and a deck illustrating our process and methodologies to help guide end-user interviews, research and ideation over the first few weeks of the class. Our interaction with the teams and professors Ignatius Aloysuis and Tirdad Kiamanesh was via Zoom and a simple camera setup in the classroom at Northwestern. Although it was not an ideal setup, we made it work and the teams launched into the front-end exploratory work to develop divergent ideas.
Our second design review was hosted during week 6 of the term. We were blown away with the diversity of ideas presented by the three teams and the body of work developed. The teams were made up of freshman engineering students and most of the team members had never worked together on projects. We provided feedback to the teams and answered a few questions. From there, the teams went back to work to complete the deliverables for final presentations on December 4, 2021.
I was absolutely blown away by the presentations and deliverables developed by our teams. The deliverables included prototypes,
posters, a written final report and, most importantly, stand up presentations. The skills and team cooperation will go forward with all of our students for future application in educational, professional and personal endeavors.
As I drove south towards Chicago and home, I reflected on my two wonderful years at the Ford Building, my classmates, Green Team members and our excellent professors. I was lucky to attend Northwestern and now, humbled and honored to teach at McCormick.
There has been a lot written lately about the “great resignation” underway across most industries. My brief visit to Northwestern University left me feeling positive about the future of innovation and higher education in America. We are a country of innovators and “can do” entrepreneurs. Innovation is a team- based activity and creativity is alive and doing well in Evanston, Illinois! Go Northwestern and Go USA!
Investment in our students and their education
Fredricks Design will continue our mission to help guide young design and engineering talent both in and out of the classroom. These sponsored or “live” projects bring a level of real-world experience that offers insights on how products are developed in the real world. This experience is extremely valuable in molding students into successful designer and engineers in the next phase of their careers and Fredricks is more than happy to do our part.
Please contact us for additional information and case studies. We would love a chance to collaborate with your team!