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Quick Jump

First Year

Fall Semester

A History of Design

A review of critical movements in design from the second half of the 20th century to the present is the focus of this course. We will consider how much of the craft that designers have valued historically is important for what we do today. Using insights grounded in history, students will evaluate what separates good design from “other” design in digital media, and review case studies of why certain products and companies have risen triumphant over others. Students will visit centers of design in the City and learn to use them as resources for research, exploration and experimentation.

Research Methods

User-centered design begins, by definition, with an understanding of users. In this course, students learn how to model interaction by conducting qualitative and quantitative research of users’ behaviors, attitudes, and expectations. By exploring ethnographic techniques, usability testing, log analysis, surveying, and other research methods, students learn how to engage user feedback effectively at every stage of the design process. We will also address how to conduct secondary research into published literature and other sources that can inform thesis projects and beyond.

Hello World: The Logic of Interaction

“Hello World” is traditionally the very first program people write when they are new to a programming language. It’s used to test programming syntax, implementation and sanity. The goal of this class is to provide students with a primer into understanding the world of computer hardware, software, and designing with code. Students will grow the tools they need to read and understand source code, critically think about software applications and write their very own programs. They’ll start with a foundation in programming and build applications of increasing complexity as the course progresses. By the end of this class, students should have the skills to speak the language of (almost) any machine using fundamentals from Python, JavaScript, and C.

The Fundamentals of Physical Computing

This class is a practical hands-on exploration of physically interactive technology for the designer. Students will learn how to interface objects and installations with the viewer’s body and ambient stimuli such as motion, light, sound, or intangible data. Starting with the basics using the open-source Arduino platform, the class will move through electrical theory, circuit design, microcontroller programming, sensors, and complex output including motors, video, and intercommunication between objects.

Strategic Innovation in Product/Service Design

The design of interactive products and services differs from other forms of design in important ways. Developing the context for successful user experiences requires designers to think more holistically about the business models for the products they create: how the value proposition to customers and users unfolds over time; what’s being “sold” and where the costs of production and management occur; how to engage, complement, and benefit from other services that intersect with what is being offered. This course will help students in becoming more effective at understanding and describing the strategic decisions involved in the creation of interactive products and services, and to equip them with tools and methods for generating innovative options and making smart strategic choices.

Service Design and Transformation

With the rise of the service economy, our opportunities as designers are shifting: more is being asked of us, and the nature of the challenges we want to and can help solve is changing. Our work may target individuals in the experiences that they encounter, or increasingly businesses in the structures they build to support service delivery, or even have a larger impact beyond the confines of one organization. To succeed as designers today, we need to be equipped with tools and approaches that work best in this service-oriented world. In this class, students should come away with a richer understanding of service design — what it is, when and where it is applicable, how to practice it, and why it is a valuable approach — and gain experience using service design approaches and tools to identify opportunities, define and frame problem spaces, develop innovative directions, and execute and communicate...

Instructors Marshall Sitten

Second Year

Spring Semester

Foundations of Responsible Design

In classic product design, the limits are well-defined. The margin for error is clear, apparent in the breaking point of physical material. You test for this. You set the
 limit and put your product through the wringer to push it two times, five times,
 ten times further. This sets the margins to ensure something is safe to use by
 anyone even in the most extreme conditions. Everything eventually breaks, but 
that moment should live within the limits of responsible design. This course will 
help students to find the line. It will be a field guide to provide insight on the 
development of responsible design methods, how digital experiences have
 become ubiquitous in our lives and impact our daily lives, the challenges and
 limits of modern design, and how we find the limits and address the challenges 
through responsible design practices.

Instructors Karen Ingram

UX Writing

Writing is part of every design project—from jotting down notes and questions to summarizing research, instructing users, and presenting work in proposals and marketing pages. In this course, students examine the writing process, collaborate on long and short-form pieces, practice editing, and use language as a strategic tool in the design process.

Instructors Scott Kubie