THE NOVEL DESIGN RESEARCH LAB EXPERIENCE: TEACHING AND TRANS-DISCIPLINARY MENTORSHIP FOR 21ST-CENTURY SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND DESIGN STUDENTS
Drexel University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Design and creative thinking as a valuable part of innovation is well established- and the need for informed research-driven practices in the design of our built environments is an expanding area with broad positive implications. (Bruton 2010) This interdisciplinary research group integrates evidence-based design and fundamental research processes in science in an outcomes-driven informed design loop. Simply put we teach and mentor our students to operate in the complex 21st-century environment. Intricate problem solving and human-centered design are the subtler skills that all students need in order to be successful in the workforce. (Owen 2016) Teaching and mentoring is at the heart of this approach and moves beginning design and STEM students towards building team based skills that they will need in their career arc. This presentation will trace the design of speculative interior solutions and one cohort of undergraduate trans-disciplinary researchers as they explore the projects presented through skill building, human-centered investigations, and creative exercises.
The primary design research strategy explored with students is an in-home architecturally integrated hydroponics system that addresses the issues of healthy food availability in the urban environment and includes informed, and research-based design. The group has created novel strategies and solutions for sustainable urban interiors using trans-disciplinary design research. This type of research is conducted to speculate around forms of space making and grows from both convergent and divergent thinking models.(Furján 2007) This trans-disciplinary research combines the best practices in interior architecture and bench science. These include considering user needs, gathering data around these requirements, testing prototypes in the lab, measuring outcomes, and hypothesizing through prototype development an iteration. This lab seeks to transform existing urban interior environments into naturally sustainable spaces and to change silo-ized educational models in the process. This presentation will examine the role of research driven design practice and pedagogy to drive innovative thought amongst a group of biology and architecture first-year students as they worked to reimagine existing urban row homes as sustainable food producing housing environments. Problem-solving in our new century demands innovation, informed design, and broadly educated researchers. This presentation also describes the novel working research and design process of the lab that supports our ultimate goal of successful innovative student mentorship.
 Bruton, Alex. 2010. “The Venture Design Studio: A Design Thinking Approach to Teaching and Learning for the Conception, Communication and Innovation of New Venture Concepts*.” In ICSB World Conference Proceedings, 1–32. Washington, United States: International Council for Small business (ICSB). http://search.proquest.com/docview/750434689/abstract/A1196B3E87E94761PQ/1.
 Furján, Helene. 2007. “Design/Research.” Journal of Architectural Education 61 (1): 62–68. doi:10.1111/j.1531-314X.2007.00129.x.
 Owen, Charles. 2016. “Design Thinking: On Its Nature and Use.” Accessed December 15. https://hbr.org/product/design-thinking-on-its-nature-and-use/an/ROT060-PDF-ENG.
Keywords: Design centered, trans-disciplinary, interior space making, sustainable urban living, hydroponics, algae, STEM, STEAM.