Charles Inspires at UCSD Engineering and Entrepreneurship Class


It’s great to be so immersed with our local San Diego creative talent at all levels.

I now have the pleasure of lecturing and mentoring at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD. The first objective is to raise awareness of the experience design process, and understand how to place a product within an overall service offering.

Nate Delson, instructor for the Product Design and Entrepreneurship course, invited DDSTUDIO to be an integral part of the program moving forward.

We’ve worked with universities before. Over the past five years, our work with UC Irvine has included lectures, design boot camps and expert panels (composed of our exciting clients). We will develop this approach further with UCSD, helping engineers to think about design and usability early in the process.

Nate just gets it: great ideas are not born in a vacuum. It’s amazing how he has fully embraced the design thinking approach; putting the user/consumer front and center to create better solutions, better products and better experiences. UCSD embraces the idea of cross-pollination between disciplines, recognizing that it creates the possibility of discoveries and off-center ideas that could never happen with a more analytical thinking approach.

The 30 students in Nate’s class, and many professional engineers well into their career, are often focused on solving individual engineering/mechanism problems. However, most would really enjoy setting the problem within the wider contexts of innovation, business strategy, usability, and visual brand language (think Dyson vacuum cleaners and fans). Engineering is the core reason they function as great products. Design provides the delight that keeps us coming back for more.

DDSTUDIO deploys diverse teams to work in partnership with clients to create these dramatically new and iconic solutions. The expertise required includes engineering, of course, but also technological savvy, material science, ergonomics, ethnographic research, prototyping, multiple user feedback loops, and more.

During previous mentoring sessions with UCSD engineering students, I have found an important missing link between the product and its intended user. There is more drive to solve an engineering challenge than to produce an appropriate solution. Sometimes the right outcome may not need traditional engineering innovation–instead, it could use existing hardware in new ways in the form of an app or a better GUI.

Listening, absorbing, persona development, acting-out scenarios and storyboarding are all steps that help to see the project as someone’s future experience. Using them, the UCSD students will soon be able to set the scene and understand their projected audience more deeply.

We look forward to helping plot progress through some great live projects, returning to UCSD to critique students and offer our distinct point-of-view. Other members of our design and development team, together with some of our very adventurous clients, will join in with future immersion sessions and workshops.

DDSTUDIO’s model shop manager, Ken Cook (previously with Mercedes-Benz Advanced Development), will also be sharing his prototyping expertise with the class.

It’s exciting to see the new generation of design/engineering professionals-in-training and to be accepted as an integral part of their course. Nate has phenomenal vision for stimulating deep interest in this new Design and Entrepreneurship course, and we’re here to help wherever we can. It’s loads of serious fun for all involved.

Charles Curbbun, Chief. DDSTUDIO

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