Semester Reflection

Taking this course has been a great learning opportunity for me. I have applied design thinking mindset with actual design and prototyping and experienced the iterate process of human-centered design. I have also learned from other teams’ project as I took classes and read reflections every week. After taking this class, I have grown my interest in the area, and have decided to participate in iVenture Accelerator to further the journey.

At the beginning of the semester, I chose to take this course because I wanted to have more hands-on practice with 3D printing, Arduinos and other technologies. I have had some experience with those technologies, and yet I have never had a systematic study on the subjects and didn’t apply those skills into practice. In addition, I care about social justice very much. I have been working as I Connect Facilitator to lead diversity and inclusion workshops on campus, and would like to learn more about people with disabilities and design for people with disabilities. For those two reasons, I signed up for this course.

In the first two weeks, we visited DRES (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-2-reflection-inspiration-at-dres/). I have changed my view on the subject and began to understand what it means to design for people with disabilities. One thing that really stood out to be was the word choice of mentor instead of user in this class. People with disabilities have more experience than us. Rather than designing for their unmet needs, the mindset should be we are learning from experts who know more than what we do.

In week 3, we had a session with Milestones Studios to learn the current trends and needs in the assistive technology field (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-3-reflection-challenge-to-make-an-impact/). After learning the examples and how to use analysis and synthesis, we wrote opportunity statement as a group. As we worked on the statement, we had a clearer picture of what we wanted to do: improving the ability to multitask for people with disabilities.

In week 4, we first had a session with Mike from EarthSense (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-4-learning-from-observations-and-reflections/). This gave me a chance to see a real example where the product evolves with users’ feedback. At later half the class, we decided our team name to be “Blueprint” and designed our logo.

In week 5, we began our class with a presentation by John, I was impressed to see how 3D painting has revolutionized the healthcare industry (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-5-reflection-revolutionize-the-world/). Specifically, I realized that 3D printing has the nature to assist with democratization and customization so that it could help with equal accessibility and equal affordability issues in the area. In the second part of the class, we learned the resources available that the Fab Lab and began our journey to learn hands-on skills.

In week 6, we learned how to use Fusion 360 to build a model (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-6-reflection-growing-the-passion-and-skills/). We did a pre-class project on a camera and an in-class project on a phone case. For the project, we began the ideation phase. After conducting an interview with mentors, we found some areas that have potential. Besides agreeing on the importance of equal accessibility and equal affordability, we realized that some people with disabilities have issues with seeing things behind them and grabbing things.

In week 7 and 8, we adopted more skills such as circuit, laser cutting and how to use sewing machine (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-7-reflection-dive-deep-with-design/, https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-8-reflection-learning-more-tools-and-reflecting-on-the-project/). In addition, we had make much progress with our project. We brainstormed on the ideas we had and draw stretches that consider multiple settings. We also made some low-fidelity prototype on our idea on vision. We communicated our ideas with the Milestones Studio in week 8, and received feedback on how to approach the ideas.

In week 9, we first finished the skill session with finishing the watch that we were building for detecting the curl and twist of the users which could make sure the users do the exercises as asked (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-9-designing-the-object-as-well-as-the-experience/). Then, we learned how to use storyboard to design the whole user experience.

In week 10, we began our preparation for the makeathon event (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-10-preparing-for-makeathon/). During the event, our group met John, and he shared many of his personal experiences with us. We realized that he would love to wear a watch but was unable to do so because the existing one in the market doesn’t satisfy the needs. Seeing the actual needs, our group was considering if we should shift our project.

In week 11, we updated again with the Milestones studios and received many insightful feedback (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/week-11-update-the-project/). I realized that it was essential to consider the mechanism of the movement in the design process.

During the same week, we had our makeathon event. Our team officially changed our topic to design an accessible watch for people with limited pinching mobility. For the weeks after, we iterated on the design and came up with the final design last week (https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/team-5-watch-strap-for-people-with-charcot-marie-tooth/).

Looking back, I am really glad that I have chosen to take this course. I immersed myself in the designing process and actually came up with something that could have potential impact on people’s life. This wasn’t something that I expected initially, but it turned out to be greater. I love the innovation that I have experienced in the process and get the ambition to connect the innovation with more people to a great extent. This encourages me to participate in the iVenture Accelerator to further my idea in the area.

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