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Saint Mary’s hosts ‘Design Challenge’ event

| Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Saint Mary’s hosted an event Tuesday called the Design Challenge. The challenge was a collaboration between various campus groups, including the Office of Civics and Social Engagement, the Career Crossings Office, the President’s Office, Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem and Enfocus.

Rebekah DeLine, director of the office of civic and social engagement, explained the Design Challenge as a way to improve the relationship between Saint Mary’s students and South Bend.

“[The Design Challenge] is an introduction to ‘design thinking’ where students are asked to reimagine the student relationship to South Bend and how it could be improved,” she said.

Design Thinking is a different strategy, DeLine explained. Unlike most mainstream strategies where a product is first designed, and then introduced to the public as a “need,” Design Thinking asks the public what its needs are, then designs products to fit those needs.

“[Design Thinking] is developing products based on pain points identified by customers,” she said.

DeLine said the event will serve multiple purposes.

“One, is to introduce students to the idea of design thinking and its basic concepts,” she said. “The other is to expose them to potential internship opportunities with two organizations. One is Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem and one is Enfocus.”

The event took place in Rice Commons from late afternoon to early evening Tuesday.

“The first 30 minutes [of the event] were networking between students and representatives from Bowman Creek and Enfocus and dinner,” DeLine said. “Following that, students were walked through an introduction to design thinking where they were asked questions about their and their friends’ experiences engaging with the broader community [of South Bend] as students here. This exercise will take about 70 minutes. Then there was a follow up debrief afterwards as well as some official introductions from Enfocus and Bowman Creek.”

DeLine believes this event and others like it to be important because it teaches students a new way of thinking.

“The way of problem solving that design thinking teaches is unique and is something that students need to learn. And it is also called human centered design, a different way of approaching problems then we’re used. By bringing this idea to campus, outside of the classroom setting, we’re allowing students to learn something new while also engaging with community partners.”

DeLine believes it is important for students to go beyond Saint Mary’s campus and connect with the greater community of South Bend.

“It comes back to [Saint Mary’s College’s] mission statement which talks about social responsibility and continually assessing response to the complex needs and challenges of the contemporary world,” she said. “That can’t just be learned in a classroom; that has to learned through engagement in the broader community.”

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