The Design Process: Ideate

Blog post by Frances Harrington, ’19

For the past few weeks, the two separate groups of the Engineering, Design, and Innovation Fellows have focused on researching their problem and using problem demarcation to get to the ideate phase of the design process. Team 1 observed the flow of students along paths and through doors and found that students usually have one place they like to hang out in. For ninth graders, it’s the lounge and for seventh and eighth graders, it is at the pit or the library. Since going outside every once in a while is good for students and their grades, Team 1 has decided to work on improving an outside area. Team 2 has been observing different lunches and which trash can is the fullest at the end. They have found that the compost has the most trash in it. They decided that by building a tray that is divided into three sections would allow students to sort trash at the table so students would not feel tempted to dump all trash into one can. Team 2 has also been meeting with Mr Barton once or twice a week to work on building a trash can and a tray prototype. When they finish, they will test it at lunch.

The Design Process: Problem Definition

Fellows are engrossed in a detailed study of each phase of the Design Cycle.

Blog post by Sebastian Singh, ’19

A few months ago, we began our research and problem-demarcation phase. Both groups, team Lunch-Room, Connor, Nathan, and Frances and team Doors, Kevin, Patrick, and I, worked on finding research relevant to our topics.

Team Lunch Room was interested in restaurant layout because they were trying to find how trash can placement affected the amount of traffic. They found that trash cans did not normally come to play in restaurants because the waiter normally takes the trash. They also focused on biomechanics to figure out how the human body handles a tray.

Team doors also focused on biomechanics to figure out how the human body responded to doors, finding that joint limitations greatly affected the way people approached doors. They also researched design of doors and different type of doors, such as a swing door. They found that people approached the swing doors quickly because they were easy to get through, but that this often caused accidents because they could not see people on the other side.

Both teams used the problem demarcation method to figure out what the problem really was. In problem demarcation, there is a starting point, means- end analysis, several problem statements, system boundaries, and then a process of comparing and choosing. Each team went through this process .  Team lunchroom decide decided to stay on the same path, whereas team doors decided to focus on improving pathways because their ultimate goal was increase knowledge. Each team has now moved to a stage where they are prototyping and implementing or making models of their ideas.