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.

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