Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Page: 4974 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The Design and Engineering course is a multidisciplinary course involving three different disciplinary areas and three different school of Politecnico di Milano, such as Design (School of Design), Mechanical Engineering (School of Industrial Engineering) and Materials Engineering (School of Industrial Process Engineering). Its purpose is to link design culture with technological and manufacturing knowledge for educating product designer to manage the whole production process: from the concept to the mass production.

Nowadays, designers are require not only to design for the manufacturing system but also to create pleasured experiences for users. Hassenzahl (2010) defined experience as a story, emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action. In a field of product design, this dialogue can be defined the interaction between the user and the product.

In Design & Engineering course, students have a natural inclination to focus on “hard” aspects of artifacts (such as the manufacturability) that lead them to overlook “soft” aspects (such as the interaction with product and the experiences elicit through it). In the last semester, a new workshop within Design & Engineering course was proposed in order to lead students to design not only for the manufacturing system but also for the product experience. This new educational proposal aims to introduce the field of interaction design to students of the first year, and to provide more skills and knowledge about materials and technologies that can support more pleasurable interaction with products (such as smart materials).
The new course was set up as three short exercises.

The first was a one-month activity aimed to introduce interaction design. Students were invited to reflect on the relationship between the information provided by the product and the user’s action exploring the correlation between feedforward and feedback of a thermostat.

The second exercise aimed to introduce dynamic features of products supported by smart materials. Smart materials are able to change their properties according to external stimuli. Those changes can be a fruitful strategy for conveying messages to users using the materiality of artifacts for creating surprising interactions. Students had one week to analyze the communication process (what and how information are conveyed through the product) of either a dishwasher or a washing machine. They had two weeks for designing a new communication process using smart materials.

The third exercise was focused on the relationship between the product and the user’s behaviors. Students were invited to analyze either a kitchen scale or a lamp, and to redesign them in order to design pleasurable experiences that can lead users to decrease their food or energy consumptions.

The course involved 24 students divided in eight groups of three students each. As a result, eight concepts for each exercise were collected. The course turned out to be a good training for fostering students to reason both on technical aspects and on product experience.

This paper summarizes the results of the three exercises and its purpose is to analyze them in order to evaluate the educational effectiveness of the didactical activities proposed to students of Design & Engineering course.
Educational activities, Design & Engineering, Product Experience, Interaction Design.