This past week we had the awesome opportunity of working with UIUC Design for America and creating our very own solutions to given situations of helping people in need. Four of their members came to our class and talked about the different projects they were working on with their teams in DFA and it was all very interesting! Once again, I’m very glad I am taking this class as a freshman so I can learn more about the different opportunities our school has to offer.
My group chose to help out Brian, a blind entrepreneur who recently moved to Austin and is unfamiliar with the new environment. Brian claimed he felt nervous when meeting new clients and uncomfortable in the new city he had just moved to. While we had a few ideas in mind right away, DFA lead us on a multi step path that made our product turn out much better than we had anticipated. We started by listing the problems Brian was facing, we would later have to try to design a solution that would fulfill all of these problems so that Brian could be as successful as possible. After creating this list we began brainstorming product ideas on post it notes. After about 5 min our table was brightly colored with all of the ideas we had and we were feeling like we were reaching a consensus. Next, we created a “prototype” of our solution using pipe cleaners, wooden sticks, and clay. The design we had come up with was a pair of glasses that Brian could wear, on which there would a camera with a memory card that could access the internet. The camera would be able to let him know who he was speaking with based upon facial recognition through his Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections. We presented the product to the class afterwards and everyone seemed content with it, it was a really interesting idea that I wouldn’t think of after initially reading Brian’s situation.
DFA’s presentation to us was inspiring to me because I did not realize the impact they have upon so many college campuses. Their members are meeting every week to design and create new ideas, a concept that is becoming foreign to the average American according to Tim Brown’s article “Design Thinking.” He had claimed that people are now taking an idea that has already been made, and merely making jazzy modifications combined with flashy advertising to describe it as “new.” This class and DFA are against that mindset I believe, we are all here to create an idea that is originally our own.