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«Academic year 2015-2016 Overall competence of designing At our Department we do not only teach you how to deliver excellent interactive systems, ...»

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Competency framework

f rom t he Stu dy Gu i de Indust r i a l D e s i g n

Academic year 2015-2016

Overall competence of


At our Department we do not only teach you how to deliver excellent interactive

systems, products and related services; we also teach you about processes: the

process of accomplishing the excellent design, and the process of becoming an

excellent designer. The Overall Competence of Designing (OCD) is an individuals’

ability to select, use and acquire the attitude, skills and knowledge that are required for a designer to act adequately in the context of a design task. The design task can be a project, course, internship activity or any professional design task outside the Industrial Design program.

Overall competence of designing The overall competence of designing is shaped by the integration of three core components. First, your vision on designing and on how you want to transform society through your designs. Secondly, it is shaped by your development of the different competencies and your insight in your competency development. We regard design as a process of taking decisions based on too little information and see two drives for information gathering: directing the design decisions through the designer’s vision, and exploring and validating design decisions in a real life context with users. Moreover, these drives are incorporated within two strategies that generate information, namely making and thinking.

Finally, we observe the OCD from the quality of your overall design, design and/or research process and deliverables (demonstration, presentation and report). This includes the extent to which your deliverables show your own ‘signature’.

Vision on designing As mentioned above, the OCD is shaped by your vision on designing. A vision is a coherent set of ideas and beliefs about the future of society and/or the future role of academic designers (who can also be researchers) in society. A good vision is based on what drives you and what your needs are.

It is therefore personal. A vision serves to direct your development and influences your actions and decision-making as a (future) designer. That is why a vision needs to have a clear focus. A good vision though, is personal and is connected to your professional identity.

Professional Identity The professional identity encompasses ‘I’ statements about who you are as a designer and as a person

- the latter as far as relevant to your OCD. It is deduced from reflections on your personality traits, your personal history what drives you and what inspires you, your interests and beliefs. Also, the professional identity is deduced from the role you typically take in a design process, your strengths and weaknesses as a designer: your OCD. Your professional identity is constantly developing. To help you self-direct this development, you need to reflect on your desired professional identity. The desired professional identity describes who you want to be as a designer and as a person – again as far as relevant to your OCD. It is constructed by placing your current professional identity in the context of your vision on the future role of the designer. Thus, the professional identity is built on your past experiences, expresses how you view yourself right now and states who you want to become.

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Figure 1. The overall competence of designing in relation to the vision and professional identity Competency structure As of the academic year 2015-2016, the Department will start to use an adapted competency model based on Criteria for Academic Bachelor’s and Master’s Curricula as defined by Meijers et al.


The final aim of our educational programs is for you to develop your overall competence of designing.

This overall competence of designing is the integration of your vision, professional identity and your overall competence of the tue industrial design engineer Self-directed and continuously developing a (professional) identity guided by a personal vision...

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competencies. Related to the areas of expertise which are listed in the next section.

The disciplinary field of Industrial Design, as it is being taught at the Eindhoven University of Technology, consists of five different disciplinary areas of expertise. Each area of expertise contributes for 20% to the

course-part of your program:

⬢ Creativity and Aesthetics ⬢ Technology and Realization ⬢ User and Society ⬢ Business and Entrepreneurship ⬢ Math, Data and Computing In addition to the competencies required to operate successfully in each area of expertise, you also need to be competent in designing (making) and doing research (understanding) in relation to these areas.

This is emphasized in the competency Design and Research Processes. Furthermore, you need to have professional skills and a scientific approach. This is demonstrated in your ability to collaborate, organize, write and present, which relates to the competency Teamwork and Communication. Finally, the most important competency that demonstrates your professional and scientific approach is self-directed and continuous learning. It is demonstrated in your ability to reflect, plan and deal with (scientific) information. This competency is emphasized in all our educational activities and should explicitly be addressed through your competency goal specification in your Personal Development Plan (PDP) and reflections in the Showcase. This basic competency enables you for lifelong learning and is one of our unique selling points.

Areas of expertise Creativity and Aesthetics (CA) Designers need to be creative and inquisitive as the act of designing is a constant process of dealing with a lack of information; this calls for an attitude of ‘wanting to know more’. In order to transform our society, designers need to be able to imagine potential futures. Imagination is a vital quality in order to break free from the world as we know it, towards the world as we would like it to be. For assessing your ideas and for making balanced decisions, a critical attitude is essential. Imagining new worlds is not the only quality of designers: the true trick is to make them reality. A critical attitude means that you should approach a design challenge by questioning what is there, taking into account your own, first-person point-of-view, as well as those of others.

In order to generate, select and refine ideas and concepts, it is useful to be up to date with creativity techniques, as well as with different approaches to make selections. There are various repositories of techniques available, for example books about creativity techniques such as brainstorming, brain writing, tinkering and many more. Also, there is quite a selection of books describing design processes of notable companies (e.g. IDEO). In this area of expertise though, we feel knowledge cannot be separated from skill, as much floats on association and imagination. You should familiarize yourself with available resources, including those necessary to position your ideas and being able to make balanced decisions. This means that you should become familiar with the professional tradition that you are in, as well as with restrictions (and opportunities) that external stakeholders place on the solution domain.

Secondly, since meaning is created in interaction, in a continuous and recursive loop between sensing and acting, Aesthetics is all about how vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell affect our reactions to objects, spaces and the physical world we inhabit. Thereby, aesthetic and form (visual) are to be extended to other modalities, and to the inter-modality. As a designer, you may specialize in one modality; gain a deep set of knowledge and skills focusing on one of the senses (e.g. focusing on sound design). However, you should be able to reflect on the sensitivity gained in one sense to realize the need for such sensitivity in other modalities, and consequently in multimodality. Therefore, the designer should also create a vocabulary to communicate this sensitivity. Moreover, specific knowledge is recognized as necessary to focus on one sense using e.g. psychophysical approaches (e.g. psychoacoustics for sound design), and you should also be knowledgeable and should be able to reflect on more holistic and ecological approaches (e.g. as offered by Gibson, 1986), taking all the senses as well as the body (position in space and behavior) into account.

Meaning is also constituted by what we do or can do. It is about our behavior, our actions and action possibilities, and consequently also about our skills. Therefore, you should trust and pay attention to your senses, and you should keep on exploring with a proactive curiosity, through physical explorations that invite touching and exploration. This requires learning to see (i.e. to feel) differently, to focus on details.

This can be achieved by iterations on and reflection upon details explored during these iterations. This leads to comprehending subtleties, intimacy and richness in the making, in the designing, and in the experiencing. For that, designers make use of physical materiality next to interactive materiality, going through a process from first explorations up to manufacturing.

Technology and Realization (TR)

Being competent in technology and realization means being able to explore, visualize, create and demonstrate innovative concepts and experiences using technology, as well as analyzing the technical and economic feasibility of complex designs in which technology is integrated. Moreover, you need to understand scientific writings and be able to communicate with engineers and researchers of other disciplines.

Designing interactive systems, and building prototypes requires training in choosing sensors and actuators, object-oriented design, algorithms, circuits and mechanisms, and integrating them in the overall competence of designing. Next to synthesizing and concretizing, developing your analytical and abstraction skills to determine the technical and economic feasibility of a design can be done through informed judgments through calculations and appropriate mathematical tools, as well as acquiring sufficient knowledge that enables you to read further and go into depth on technological, design-related issues.

Designers typically work in multi-disciplinary teams. This, and the fact that intelligent systems can at some point overstretch the skills and knowledge of Industrial Design students, requires you to understand scientific writings and to be able to communicate with engineers and researchers of another discipline.

This means understanding electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, material science and manufacturing processes as disciplines, and being able to cooperate with these engineers, which may require reading specifications and datasheets, documenting hardware and software, and finally awareness of data science and artificial intelligence.

User and Society (US)

As designing is bringing about societal change, it directly affects people’s everyday life and work.

Therefore, people are main stakeholders in the design process. User and Society is about acknowledging the consequences of this insight, by empathizing with people and involving them throughout the design process. It is about realizing that ‘user’ is just one role of people, which is fully integrated in their everyday sense-making efforts. It is an attitude more than a set of skills or a collection of insights. Becoming competent in User and Society means acquiring this attitude and the associated skills and knowledge for implementing this attitude in the design process.

The attitude is about creating empathy with the people who will be affected by the design process and its outcomes. It presupposes sensitivity towards and respect for people and their interests, the willingness to understand people in their everyday context, to take their perspective and to create value for people, an openness and curiosity towards people and a readiness to learn from people. Also, it involves the disposition to act ethically and in a morally responsible way towards users both in the process and with respect to the outcome of the design process.

Implementing this attitude in the first place means applying a set of skills for gettinginformation about and from people (see also Math, Data and Computing) and involving them in the design process, allowing them to contribute to the design process and establishing a dialogue to discuss proposals. The skills concern knowledge of which methods are available for involving people in different stages of the design process and skills in applying those methods, including methods for getting them to talk, observing them in action and having them contribute by making artifacts. They also include skills for analyzing quantitative and qualitative data, such as interview and interaction recordings. Finally, you will need to acquire skills in applying different perspectives in the design process. You can take a third person perspective, observing users and acquiring information about them. You can take a second person perspective, and involve users in the design process through participatory design techniques. Or you can take a first person perspective, empathizing with users. A skilled designer is able to switch between different perspectives.

A third element of being competent in User and Society is the knowledge about methods for involving people, groups of people or (societal and business) stakeholders in the design process. This requires knowledge of psychological and social theory. Methodological skills cannot exist without knowledge of which different approaches and methods exist, what their goals are and how they apply to the different stages of the design process. This includes insight into the different purposes of user research (e.g., exploration, validation). The psychological and social theory can be related to three aspects of the relation between the user and his or her environment: the interaction itself, the resulting user experience and the (societal and/or industrial) context in which the interaction takes place. At the level of interaction, there are theories about perceptual and cognitive aspects of the interaction with technological artifacts. At the level of the resulting user experience there are theories about the emotional and motivational processes.

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