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  • Christina Williams

Time to get thinking about design

Quick, how do you define the design process?


If you are one of the students in InventOR’s online class, Design Thinking & Product Design for Everyone, you’ll have an answer for that.

The InventOR team kicked off its program of online curriculum this month, a program that will continue throughout the school year and prepare student inventors from all across the state to develop the best possible prototypes of their world-changing ideas and ultimately preparing them to win the top prize at InventOR 2018 in June. Students that come to the InventOR program later in the year, will be able to catch up with their colleagues by accessing the online courses. Design thinking will be followed by web-based classes on the how-to’s of prototyping and the nuts and bolts of commercializing an invention.


To teach students the design thinking basics, InventOR turned to a pro. Bill Dresselahaus is trained in the Stanford-IDEO approach to design thinking — the method refined by the storied design firm IDEO and taught at Stanford University — and has been teaching it for decades to engineers, product designers, and students.


“Basically, I’m a process guy,” says Bill. “I’m not going to tell you whether your idea is good or bad, that’s your job to figure out.”

In addition to teaching the five steps of the design process and how they work, both in a linear and more circular way, to achieve the best possible prototype, Bill encourages students of design thinking to entertain a wide range of ideas and to embrace failure as part of the process. Bill likes to quote IDEO’s credo — fail often to succeed sooner — and give examples of notable failures to get us all comfortable with the idea that a failure is a normal part of the process.


“The design thinking method gets you through the fuzzy front end to something really clear that people need and want,” he says. “Once you know what it is: then building a prototype and doing the business model is much easier.”

The Design Thinking course includes weekly live sessions through mid-December during which students can ask questions in real time and get feedback on their projects and processes. Anyone who misses a live session can access the classes after the fact. Bill will work with all students to develop a digital portfolio of their design process as part of the road to InventOR 2018!


Visit InventOR to learn more about the Design Thinking Webinar Series and RSVP here to join the next session.


P.S. If you’re still wondering how to define the design process, here’s the cheat sheet:


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