Quick poll to industrial designers: When did you decide on industrial design for your career? If you answered "I knew I wanted to do this since childhood," congratulations: you're basically a unicorn. For the rest of us, the story we hear most often is that of never even knowing about this profession until after starting college.
In 2010, the Atlanta Chapter of IDSA set out to change that by initiating the Atlanta Design Outreach (ADO) program. A 2-day design charrette for high school students that highlights critical thinking and iterative design development, all while creating valuable connections between students and their team leaders – our community of design professionals. We pair local practicing design professionals and current college undergraduates with teams of 9th- to 12th-graders from schools across greater Atlanta. As a result, we hope that students are inspired to pursue design into their professional lives and gain confidence to use their creativity in all aspects of their lives.
Chris Livaudais, Chris Ruff, Eric Chalko, Joseph Sexton, Justin Arsenault, Kevin Shankwiler, Luke Jordan
During this hands-on event, students experience what it takes to design a new product using design thinking and rapid ideation methods. We start out researching problem areas and sketching ideas on paper, then quickly move into prototyping with cardboard, 3D printers, and anything else lying around so that we can quickly see and test designs in the real world. At each step of the way, team leaders are providing guidance to teams and keeping the energy high. It's pretty amazing what these teams can accomplish in only two days.
A program like this relies on the support of local business for funding and collaboration. Over the program's six-year history, we have partnered with Atlanta companies like: The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, InReality, Kids II, and Chick-fil-A. For 2015, we were fortunate to have the design team from Kimberly-Clark (maker of Kleenex, Kotex, Cottonelle, and Huggies) involved. Kimberly-Clark devised a project called "Hot Spots" and challenged students to tackle cleanliness during day-to-day school activities. The average school desk has more than 20,000 germs on its surface – and this is just on the desk alone. Take into account all of the touch points a student interacts with during their daily routine, and you can begin to imagine how this can quickly add up. Door handles, lockers, drinking fountains, interactions with other students – these all come together to create the perfect hygiene crisis.
Teams set off to observe areas on the Georgia Tech campus such as hallways, cafeterias, classrooms, and bathrooms to identify key "Hot Spots" - primary touch points where we encounter germs every day. Armed with first-hand perspective of the problem and the impact poor cleanliness can have on people, teams blasted through brainstorming, designing, and building a prototype that demonstrates their final design solution in less than 48 hours.
Final concepts this year ranged from germ-fighting backpacks with built-in UV lights to cleaning 'bots' that quietly sanitized as they scooted up and down railing, from mobile phone cases with built-in disinfectant wipes to self-sanitizing door handles that rotate automatically between each use.Check out this video with highlights from this year's workshop.
So what's the impact of all of this? In total, over 250 high schoolers have participated with several returning for a second or third year. We've even had two declare industrial design as their major upon entering college - it's a small success, but one we are extremely proud of. Each year the program continues to grow, both in numbers and in community engagement.