DESIGN THINKING

Visualizing a future of possibility

by Guest Publisher Jeff McCubbin, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences

Jeff McCubbin - portraitDesign permeates everything we do, in all aspects of our lives: in our homes, landscapes, medical settings, transportation hubs, in the apparel we wear and the equipment we use.

When design is done well, it can make our lives easier, solve some of our most
pressing issues, and make society better. Yet when not optimized, poor design can cause many problems, even safety issues.

“Design thinking” refers to an approach to challenges that harnesses designers’ creativity, sparks innovation, and inspires them to solve problems in unique and novel ways, visualizing what’s possible, and often using technology. Design thinking puts the people or animals that stand to benefit at the center of the process. Colorado State University faculty and alumni are using design thinking to change lives – we hope you are inspired by the creative minds featured in the latest issue of Outcomes.

We all can benefit from accessible, human-centered design – after all, who enjoys donning a hospital gown? This focus on the human experience has inspired Associate  Professor Juyeon Park to employ her product development and apparel design expertise to redesign the current uncomfortable gown while taking into consideration the needs of medical professionals, as well as cost.

Design instruction has always emphasized hands-on, interactive learning. The new Richardson Design Center reflects interior design alumna and OtterBox co-founder Nancy Richardson’s commitment to an inclusive, multidisciplinary design approach.
Richardson’s vision and passion for giving inspired her and her husband, Curt, to pledge $8.1 million toward the state-of-the-art hub for innovation scheduled for construction at CSU. Students and faculty from multiple disciplines will have the opportunity to collaborate and innovate with each other and industry professionals in this new space.

At CSU, improving lives is central to our land-grant mission. Researchers at CSU embrace creative, sustainable solutions to improve the human condition. Through the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise M.B.A. in the College of Business, aspiring entrepreneurs create products that focus on things like cleaner air and water and improving education. In Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Associate Professor Zachary Johnson is making sure the next generation of landscape designers can employ water-saving technology to make beautiful outdoor spaces more sustainable.

Design thinking is not just the purview of the creative arts, but can be applied broadly, across disciplines, to tackle complex problems. At CSU, researchers in a variety of disciplines work to provide creative solutions. In addition to Temple Grandin, CSU has another famous animal rights expert, University Distinguished Professor Bernard Rollin. Rollin advised one of the leading pork producers to pursue humane housing redesign for pigs. In Atmospheric Science, researchers want to better understand severe storm behavior and save lives. Associate Professor Susan van den Heever decided to employ original strategies, namely drones and weather balloons, to tackle the problem.

We can also gain inspiration from our alumni, who are deploying their design expertise to a variety of projects, from aviation to robots, comic books to plus-size apparel for athletic women.

Design thinking allows us to envision solutions where all things are possible. At CSU, our faculty are visualizing how to create a better world and putting their ideas into action. All by design.

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