The Design Process: Empathy Phase, Part II

Fellows are engrossed in a detailed study of each phase of the Design Cycle.  Students deepened their understanding of the empathy stage through studying and practicing the art of interviewing.

Blog post by Connor Holland, ’19

Over the past few weeks, the EDI Fellows have been tackling the interview portion of the design process. During this time, each fellow was tasked with interviewing 1-2 students and/or faculty members to gain a further understanding of how to improve the systems they were working on. The Ingresses and Egresses team, which consists of Kevin, Patrick, and Sebastian, chose to interview a wide array of people from the community about the entryways around the Norfolk Academy. The Refectory Team, which consists of Frances, Nathan, and Connor, interviewed a teacher, as well as one student from each division (Lower, Middle, and Upper). Having conducted these interviews, they gained a better understanding of how people felt about the traffic flow in Norfolk Academy’s hectic lunch room.

The interviewees were chosen by the fellows in order to gain a perspective from each age group, as people of different ages often have various patience levels. This is important to ensure that any potential solutions will benefit all users as opposed to just the age group of the designer. Then, each fellow created a list of questions to bring up during their discussions. These were based primarily on understanding how the faulty systems affected the people using them and their emotions. Through these conversations, most of the interviewers found that people have varying amounts of passion about the same subject. While some had strong opinions, others simply didn’t seem to care or be overly affected by any of the issues. With this process completed, the fellows will now turn their attention to the problem definition phase. This will force them to narrow in on a specific problem that they would like to tackle.

The Design Cycle: Empathy Phase, Part I

Fellows are engrossed in a detailed study of each phase of the Design Cycle.  Students deepened their understanding of the empathy stage through understanding the role of observation in the engineering design process.

Blog post by Nathan Williams ’19

During the second half of the first semester we, the Engineering Design and Innovation Fellows, also known as EDI, focused the majority of our time on observations. Observations are an essential step of the design process, as it is impossible to improve a design or system if the engineer has no first-hand experience with the problem that they are trying to solve.  Also, collecting data is vital to bringing about positive change with a new design.  

The first group, composed of Patrick McElroy, Kevin Smedley, and Sebastian Singh, focused on ingresses and egresses, or in other words, the first group focused on doors and the system of entering and leaving rooms. Patrick, Kevin, and Sebastian performed their observations by watching a diverse myriad of students and faculty interacting with ingresses and egresses. They then recorded this information and data that they gathered within their design notebooks, graciously provided by Mr. Garvin who works in the art department.

The second group, composed of Frances Harrington, Nathan Williams, and Connor Holland, focused on the lunch system at Norfolk Academy.  We spent our observation time by attending the three different division lunches. First, was the lower school lunch, which is comprised of first through sixth graders. Second is middle school lunch, which contains seventh through ninth graders. Finally there was the upper school lunch which is composed of tenth to twelfth graders. During the second group’s observation time, we recorded our findings within our design notebooks, same as the first group.
As we move on to the interview phase we will hang on to these observations, as they will surely be a major component in our ideate phase of the design process. We will be discussing our observations among ourselves in the meantime and attempt to state a problem.