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Colleen & SDC 2019 team

I LOVE Human-Centered Design. Throughout my time here at Dartmouth, this love has manifested through a variety of experiential learning-based classes, classes that usually entail working with community organizations and collaborating with my peers.

As my love for Human-Centered Design (HCD) has grown, so too have the opportunities to engage with it through my coursework. If you have read some of my previous blogs, then you may already know that last year I had the opportunity to enroll as the only junior in the spring portion of a two-term class called the Senior Design Challenge, a class that was created by former Dartmouth students for current Dartmouth seniors to spend the final two terms of our undergraduate education working with community partners (aka "clients") to solve a problem or challenge that person, company, organization, or foundation was facing. 

So, last spring I was invited to join the SDC to spend ten weeks researching, ideating, prototyping, and finalizing a project in response to Nike and IDEO’s collaborative challenged that asked, “How might we create a waste-free, circular future by designing everyday products using Nike Grind materials?” (Read my full blog about I was able to take it as a junior here). 

To put it simply, the Senior Design Challenge reminded me once again why I am so obsessed with Human-Centered Design and allowed me to grow as a thinker, designer, and teammate through the process. As I wrapped up the class, the only thing that I regretted was not being able to take the full two-term sequence, as a ten-week, client-based project is great but a 20-week one is better. 

Well, this year I am overjoyed to be enrolled in the FULL two-term sequence of the Senior Design Challenge, this time working with a new team on a new project that has the power to positively impact the lives and communicative abilities of ALS patients around the U.S.

 In January, three of my peers and I embarked on a six-month project working with Pison Technology, a start-up out of Boston that aims to improve the quality of life for immobile ALS patients. Our goal is to employ design thinking methodologies to help design and develop a packaged assistive technology solution and onboarding process that enables physically limited individuals with ALS to interact with day-to-day technology with speed, comfort, and ease by leveraging Pison's cutting-edge nerve-sensing technology. 

This project has allowed us to work directly with the CEO and head engineers of Pison Technology as well as numerous ALS patients and their caregivers who are excited by the possibility of faster communication. Though I cannot dive into detail about what the Pison tech can do due to the NDA I signed, what I will say is that I am elated to be working on something that truly matters and where the stakes for delivering excellent work are quite high. Stay tuned as my team and I continue working on this project and (hopefully) implement something that will spark meaningful, positive change in the lives of ALS patients.

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