Taking the Senior Design Challenge... As a Junior
This term, I am really excited to be enrolled in the Senior Design Challenge, a course that was created to bring together 20 seniors from all over campus for a two-term sequence of need-finding, problem-solving, and designing for a client. However, if you've read any of my previous blogs or took a glace at my bio, then you probably already know that I am not a senior, but a junior with a passion for Human-Centered Design. How the heck did I end up in a course reserved for seniors?
Well, it all started last term I took a class called "Social Entrepreneurship." My two group mates and I spent the term researching a need associated with global poverty, forming an idea of a business that could help alleviate this need, and pitching our idea and business plan to our professor and the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network. While this class was A LOT of work, my group and I ended up learning a ton and became pretty close friends in the process.
So, towards the end of finals week last term, I received a text from Matt, one of my group mates, asking me if I'd be interested in joining the Senior Design Challenge for a 10-week experiential learning project. Matt had been enrolled in the class for the winter, as well, but felt as though the New York City-based project he had been working on with a different group was not the right fit for his set of skills and abilities. And, because this year is the first time the course has ever been offered at Dartmouth, Matt explained that the professor was open to having me join the class to see what a different iteration of this new course could look like.
Fast-forward to today, and I am so glad I decided to be semi-spontaneous and join Matt in the Senior Design Challenge. Our project, spurred by the open-ended IDEO and Nike challenge of "How might we create a waste-free, circular future by designing everyday products using Nike Grind materials," has been quite the whirlwind. Determined to fully immerse ourselves in the human-centered design process, we've completed dozens of in-person interviews, filled up five double-sided whiteboards with hundreds of sticky notes, and spent an absurd number of hours together reframing the challenge, analyzing our insights, and brainstorming solutions.
Above all else, I think the Senior Design Challenge has shown me this term that schoolwork does not always have to feel like work. This class has reaffirmed my passion for using human-centered design and design thinking as a framework to approach problem-solving, and I am so glad that my incredible partner and professor have allowed me to break the mold and join the Senior Design Challenge as a junior.
*Stay tuned for another post soon about what the heck Matt and I have been working on this term!