Do you want to learn how Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook and Apple create amazing user-centred products and services? If you’re a student at NTNU, you now have that chance as a cutting-edge course from Silicon Valley arrives in Trondheim just in time for the new academic year.
The world-renowned d.school is a hub for innovators at Stanford. Students from engineering, medicine, business, law, the humanities, sciences, and education find their way here to take on the world’s messy problems together, through combining human values and transformative learning experiences.
The new optional course, TMM4220 - Innovation by Design Thinking, is open to students no matter what their field of study. The primary aim of the course is to empower students to ideate, launch, run, and successfully complete innovation projects that have a significant and meaningful impact on pioneering organizations and industries.
The brains behind the course are Martin Steinert and Federico Lozano. Steinert explains where the idea came from:
"I came from Stanford where we had a different teaching style. We were more hands on, prototyping, building, being in the shop, sending teams out to conduct user interaction and need-finding sessions. This whole toolbox of skills is dubbed Design Thinking. Now we want to bring it to Trondheim. Not a version adapted for Norway, but bring the full Stanford experience to NTNU."
To ensure the experience is as authentic and useful as possible, the team won’t be expecting students to attend lectures and follow instructions. Instead, they will be acting as coaches, encouraging teams and pointing them in the right direction, but ultimately letting the student teams design their own path.
“We have support from the ProRector of Innovation and from the Technology Transfer Office, but we are trying to let this come from the students. As such, we are promoting this course through the Student Society and not through the traditional top-down academic approach."
An important ingredient to Design Thinking is empathy, something which will be central to the course. Lozano explained why in a recent blog post for NTNU Tech Zone:
"As a product developer, viscerally immersing oneself in people’s day-to-day existence is especially important to be able to gain an empathic perspective. After all, how can we really know what it’s like to be obese, for example, or to work in a particularly difficult job, or to suffer from a certain ailment, if we haven’t experienced it ourselves?"
"I was a bit surprised to see that one of my students was being pushed into the classroom in a wheel chair. At first, I thought that she had suffered an accident. Then towards the back of the large lecture hall, I saw a student sitting quietly in strange gear with large soundproof headsets, a bulky weight vest, military gloves, and awkward goggles. He looked like a cross between a suicide bomber and an airport maintenance guy. It wasn’t until the end of my lecture that it suddenly hit me: my students were immersing themselves in the lives of their users, i.e., handicapped people looking for better bicycles! It is these warm and fuzzy moments that make my job worthwhile."
You can find out more information about the course here - http://www.innovationbydt.org
Photo: Christian Haugen