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Intro to Design Thinking

These projects were an introduction to design thinking and laid the foundations that inspired me to pursue the subject further. They involved research and concept phases, storytelling, and iterations for final concept.


Why do people snack?  How do people define what comprises a snack?  These are some of the questions our team of three set out to answer to generate a product that improves people’s snacking habits.  We began with the ‘Discover’ phase, seeking out ideas by researching students in their natural snacking habitats.  We worked hard to understand students’ needs and wants regarding snacking in order to design something to adapt and help these behaviors.  After our researching, the problem that most resonated with our audience was being stuck in a cycle of boring, repetitive snacking.  Students need encouragement in experimenting with new ways to snack because they’re stuck in the same eating routines.  After concept generation, we created BITE, a concept app that logs your purchases, keeps track of the nutritional information of snacks, and can recommend snacks to try in order to foster creative snacking.

Crash Course

The last project of Design Matters was a group project with individual presentations.  Each student had three areas to choose from, and the area most appealing to me was the collaboration between colleges and disciplines within the university.  One reason for my interest in this subject was a result of my Da Vinci Concentration in design.  Our group explored themes across disciplines, working to see areas of interest and different divisions of collaboration that might already exist and how effective they had been.  In analyzing the research, I learned about professors’ relationships with professors in other departments and other colleges at Notre Dame and how challenging it was logistically for these professors to teach multi-disciplinary classes, even when the plan and desire were present.

Cross-disciplinary classes were considered to be for the intellectually curious, but all professors naturally love to learn.  These insights created a point of view describing how professors, especially tenured professors, must be pushed to have a change of mindset to grow, explore opportunities, and seek the best methods of teaching.  Insert Tenured Tim, the persona for this point of view.  After getting feedback on three different concepts, Crash Course was finalized.  It 'crashed' together a tenured professor with an area outside of his/her expertise.  The design solution includes three proposals.  A professor can collaborate in a class with interests outside of their direct research.  This class serves as a spring-board to keep the professor sharp and thinking of new opportunities.  It also involves an outlet to propose and converse about new possibilities.  While this is one solution to creating more cross-disciplinary interactions, professors are key in preparing students for life after graduation and hopefully this would inspire changes in behavior.

Talking to professors and students throughout this project enlightened me to the passion for cross-disciplinary education, and I'm optimistic for the changes higher-education will make in the future.

Crammin' Companion

This research project and presentation was conducted in a group of three.  The task at hand was to create a product that would assist people studying.  For the inspiration phase of the project, we conducted extensive research in the forms of interviews, observations, photographs, and brainstorming sessions to produce prototypes.  The most important part of the research was examining how people engage with products around them while studying.  Pain points of students were develop and this revealed latent needs which created the opportunity for brainstorming around central personas: Social Dave O’Connor, Isolated Studier Samuel, and Spacious Elizabeth.

Our point of view presented our problem as a result of the background research and the more generalized personas.  This point of view stated: “People who study in social places need a way to condense their studying materials in order to achieve maximum efficiency in spite of limited physical space.”   This point of view led to brainstorming activities for the ideation phase.  Four ideas were selected from the brainstorming session as credible solutions for our problem and prototypes were created.  After further analysis and working to address the needs stated in our point of view, we developed the Crammin’ Companion, featuring an accordion-style folder, a textbook stand, and a low, supportive base.  It provides a perfect solution for the space-conscious studier.  Our group created a video featuring the Crammin’ Companion below.

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