Skills Development

Overall development

I would describe my overall development in regards to the design process that I went from, not knowing how to structure a design process and not feeling confident at all to “I am going to do this next, because …”. And of course you can still end up making a misstep or have missed opportunities looking back. But overall I would say that I can structure a design process for myself, even when not familiar yet.

In regards to the research process, I have shifted from hating to look up articles, to being inspired and intrigued by all the knowledge and ideas that you encounter while reading. Researching or reading papers itself it still not my favourite process, but I have learned to embrace it and focus on all the knowledge that you gain during.

Creativity and Aesthetics

This expertise feels the most obvious for our study, but often also the most difficult to define. Of course we go through a creative process and think about what things look like. But creativity and aesthetics go much deeper than that. It is the art of thinking about what different aesthetics bring to the design. What makes them different? What story do you want to tell? The art is to help the users envision what your idea looks like and help them be open to creativity. This deepened understanding is also what I think my main development has been. Instead of only thinking about what looks nice, I think beyond merely looks and into the meaning aesthetics can have. For instance with my FBP the main posture communicating object is a mannequin, because I believe that a personalised form can communicate posture better than for instance an abstract one can. A naked mannequin could portray a sense of abstractness and distance and Mo fully clothed with eyes and hair could be too personalized and make people feel like someone was observing. Mo with clothes but still wooden, could communicate a ‘humanness’, but still be seen as cute  and a bit abstract. The fact that I now think about these meaning behind the looks, has me convinced that I developed a deeper understanding and knowledge and am able to put that into a design.

Technology and Realization

This is the expertise area I was most eager to learn and develop myself in, as this could allow me to actually make ideas into a functional product. However, during my studies, I felt really insecure of my own skills and thrown into the deep. Some students seemed to have a natural understanding of for instance coding Arduinos, but I did not really understand what I was doing. Even though I tried to learn more about coding and electronics, I often relied on others to help me. Within my final bachelor project, I really took the time to learn and understand the electronics, its data and how to code it. This has made me much more confident in my own skills and ability to solve issues. I learned that even though sometimes frustrating, I really like to explore electronics and figuring out a way to make everything work together.

Of course realization is about much more than just electronics, it can also be everything around the design, for instance making a casing or sewing a sweater and putting everything together. Through for instance courses such as Creative Mechanical Engineering, I was able to learn about manufacturing and making 3D models and get familiar with other ways to realize a design than woodworking. I hope make more use of for instance 3D printing or milling in the future, as I now do think I am able to make the required models.

Math, Data and Computing

The first thing I associated with this expertise was calculus, physics and data analytics, which were not the courses I really enjoyed doing. However, as time progressed and for instance collected data got more complicated. I did realize that I had been given the tools to deal with all that data. During the last courses of year 2, my internship and my fbp, I have been working with python quite often to clean, analyse or visualize my data. This is something that I would have never expected when I learned to work within python for the first time. I really did not understand what I was doing and is still difficult sometimes. However, I do not back away from taking on the task. Even more so, I prefer python over excel now, as it is for instance much more easy to visualize many of the same data frames within python, than in excel (as far as my excel skills go).

Data of course first needs to be collected, before it can be analysed. Within my fbp I explored many different sensors for instance, tilting, air quality, pressure and ultrasonic sensors. This allowed me to learn about how to interpret different types of data and identify what would be useful in a design.

Business and Entrepreneurship

At the beginning of my studies I thought that this expertise area mainly looked into finding investors and business plans. However, throughout courses such as my USE-line Engineering Design and the course Design Innovation Methods, I learned that it entails so much more. It can be user focused, for instance understanding what your design brings the user or understanding the journey of the user and the design. It can also be more about the market, defining competitors, what sets you apart, and does the product fit the market or does it need to change? And much, much more!

The development I see in myself in this area is both in the understanding of the process, so for instance how important it is to really know your user group and potential market and to really understand and work out all the details of your product. But also in the understanding of the tools to get those insights. For instance, was my value proposition at the beginning of my studies just based on my thoughts. But now, a market segmentation and personas are both done before to gain a better understanding of the users and market. At the beginning of my studies the ‘look into the market and value’ would have ended there. Making a customer journey, a problem-solution fit or thinking about potential new markets would not be done.

Even though this was and still is not my most strong expertise area, I did learn to see and appreciate the added value that thinking about the business aspect can bring. It helps deepen and mature a project from a concept towards a product and helps create a product that fits the market rather than just a cool idea that nobody wants.

User and Society

This is the expertise area that was the main guider for most of my design processes. My process was mostly a loop of trying to understand the user, coming up with an idea, going back to the user to get feedback and improving. At first this understanding was mainly created by asking the user questions and research. However, during my B2.2 project, I discovered the use of co-design. This does not only allow you as the designer to get in close contact with the users, it lets the users think and design alongside you. The insights that they create, can really help guide the design process, for instance with identifying requirements, desires and even ideas or concepts. In order to help me achieve my vision, a good user focussed design is needed and therefore I have used co-creation in all projects that came after my ‘discovery’.