Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 2253-2262
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1475
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper investigates a new course held at the Design and Engineering Master Programme of Politecnico di Milano, a multidisciplinary programme involving three disciplinary areas connected to three different Schools: Product Design (School of Design), Mechanical Engineering (School of Industrial Engineering) and Materials Engineering (School of Industrial Process Engineering). The traditional aim of this master degree programme is to train product designers to manage the whole design process: from the idea generation to the product industrialization. However, due to the technological revolution of the last years, some changes in the programme’s focus became necessary. Indeed, products are becoming more and more smart, dynamic and interactive, as sensors and actuators are embedded into everyday products, causing huge changes in product’s functions and in the way users interact with them. Consequently, designing products means designing not only their static features, but also their interactive and dynamic nature. To accommodate these changes, recently a track on interaction design has been introduced in the Design&Engineering programme, with the aim to teach students to design interactive and smart products.

In this paper, a new course carried out at the first year of the interaction design programme is discussed. The course aims to introduce basics of interaction design to students, by practical design activities. The new course was designed by transferring knowledge and tools coming from research carried out in the field of interaction design and dynamic products to students. The goal was not only to teach students how to design interactive products, but especially to improve their skills in envisioning and designing meaningful and engaging experiences with products. Indeed, in previous studies, it was observed that students enrolled in Design and Engineering course have the tendency to focus more on the product’s industrial feasibility, than on soft aspects like aesthetics and user experience.

During the course, three workshops were organized:
- The first workshop introduced the theme of interaction design.
- The second workshop was focused on smart materials and new products experiences that can be generated with them.
- The third workshop explored the design of persuasive products: students were invited to design products that can affect users’ behavior in their daily life.

For all these activities, researchers provided students with some introductive lectures with the aim to give them a uniform theoretical background. Lectures were followed by three-weeks design activities in which students were invited to put into practice the theoretical knowledge.
This paper describes the three design activities and summarizes the students’ outputs for each workshop. Its purpose is to analyze the educational experience in order to evaluate the effectiveness of translating research insights into the design activities proposed to students.
Interaction design, industrial design.