Learn about some projects I’ve enjoyed working on recently.
Each of these projects explores something different about the systems around us and how we might think about them differently to design them better. Jump to a project or scroll to see current and recent projects below.
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Cultivating inclusion via engineering education
research – inclusion – education – 2021-2022
The premise of this research project is that engineering is not neutral, and this understanding can help us unpack our current engineering education culture and start building an inclusive engineering experience for all students. “Engineering is not neutral” means that there is not a single way to do, learn, or experience engineering. Even the driest analytical tools are anchored by their purpose and the visions they can enable. This is an NSF-funded project that I am contributing to as a research assistant and workshop facilitator, where we are engaging faculty in a three-year collegial learning community with the goal of making it the norm for all faculty to reflect, practice, and implement recognized best practices for fostering inclusion in the classroom.
- Colorado’s Equity Toolkit: http://masterplan.highered.colorado.gov/equitytoolkit/
- About this project in CU Denver news: https://ucdengineeringnews.com/2021/06/04/engineering-professors-tackle-barrier-to-inclusion-their-own-culture/
- Keep an eye out for our upcoming paper at ASEE ’22!
Designing futures together: Human-centered design for strategic planning
research – design process – strategy – 2021-2022
This research project explores how a user centered design process can be implemented for the design of strategic goals and initiatives. For the case studies in this research, we are examining the recent CU Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus strategic planning processes, where community members came together around focus areas to design impactful goals and meaningful strategies to meet those goals. Community members participated in facilitated workshops that stepped through steps of Discovery, Define, Develop, and Deliver to identify key stakeholders and needs, opportunities and general goals that state needs concisely, ideation of strategies and evaluation measures, and prototyping and visualizing the strategies to gather community feedback and iterate.
- Design Innovation Handbook, which I co-authored in 2020, includes methods that were used as part of the strategic planning process.
- About the University of Colorado Denver strategic planning process: https://www.ucdenver.edu/2030
- About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus strategic planning process: https://www.cuanschutz.edu/offices/strategic-initiatives/strategic-initiatives
Visualizing factors that impact homelessness
design project – systems mapping – homelessness – 2021
The goal of this project was to learn, and visualize, the factors that contribute to homelessness in the metro Denver area, so that these systemic factors can be communicated and understood. Multiple rounds of interviews with stakeholders were used to inform a systems map of factors as communicated by stakeholders, which shows how factors interrelate via different pathways. Stakeholders included those experiencing homelessness, housing, health, and services providers for those experiencing homelessness, and government or nonprofit organizations. The result was a report with recommendations of areas for further focus, along with examples of existing work in those spaces as examples of the range of approaches possible for reaching functional zero homelessness. This project was a partnership between the Inworks Innovation Initiative at CU Denver and the Common Sense Institute in 2021.
- The report for this project is available from the Common Sense Institute: https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/homelessness-phase-2/
- The systems map created as part of this project: https://kumu.io/axc/homelessness-ecosystem
- Coverage of this project in local news: https://coloradosun.com/2021/10/27/homelessness-metro-denver-study/
Systems Engineering Education Ecosystem Portal
design project – education innovation – systems engineering – 2020-2022
This project is to implement an interactive website where students, practitioners, employers, and university programs can collaboratively evolve systems engineering education through a language of systems engineering competencies. The Comcast Media and Technology Center is the implementation partner for this program, in collaboration with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) and many other stakeholders and partners.
- Our latest publication: Systems Engineering Education Ecosystem at the Frontiers in Education (FIE) conference
- See a demo and sign up to be notified when our beta site is live and accepting users to test: http://seee.org
Hard conversations: Designing for difficult design spaces
research – design process – life and mortality – 2021
This research project, called Bricolage for Mortality, was conceptualized by a recent CU Denver graduate, Ishea Lee, who received her BFA in Digital Design in 2021. The research question this project explores is how do participants in a facilitated design session engage in automatic and reflective thinking styles, in the context of designing tools to facilitate conversations about life and mortality, a topic most participants found difficult, but fruitful, to engage.
- Ishea’s presentation at the 2021 CU Denver Research and Creative Activities symposium: https://symposium.foragerone.com/2021-racas/presentations/27473
Exploring how artists and engineers communicate in interdisciplinary work
research – interdisciplinary teams – design communication – 2021
This research project is led by recent CU Denver graduate, Ryan Breuer, who received a BFA in 3D Graphics and Animation in 2021. This project is a qualitative research study, with the goal of identifying strategies for interdisciplinary communication in an interdisciplinary work environment. We are analyzing interviews of practicing artists and engineers in animation studios to learn key elements of successful communication in an interdisciplinary environment.
- Ryan’s presentation at the 2021 CU Denver Research and Creative Activities Symposium: https://symposium.foragerone.com/2021-racas/presentations/27486
- Ryan won a 2nd place award in the Arts and Media category at RACAS. Congratulations Ryan!
Design method cards for learning a language of design
research – interdisciplinary teams – design communication – design methods – 2020-2021
This project was started by Anthony Porcaro, a CU Denver graduate in 2021 from the Illustration program. The goal of this project is to learn what factors enhance the ability for users to effectively use design method cards as an introduction to a design method. Each card is a short description of what the method is, what it means, how it could be used, and a short visual example. Factors tested include both functional and aesthetic factors, including colors, information hierarchy, the visual complexity of examples, and the length of each text statement.
- Anthony’s presentation at the 2021 CU Denver Research and Creative Activities Symposium: https://symposium.foragerone.com/2021-racas/presentations/27385
- Anthony won a 2nd place award for his work at the 2020 summer symposium to close his EUReCA! Research Fellowship, a competitive summer undergraduate research program. Congratulations Anthony!