Messy, fun, and rewarding: CIS 102Y Design Thinking and Innovation

A new course is coming to Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems for students who want to be in the room where design and innovation happen.

In Spring 2019, Pace students have the opportunity to take the new course Design Thinking and Innovation. This project-based learning course is offered on both the Westchester and NYC campuses. According to Professor Andreea Cotoranu, who teaches the course on the Westchester Campus, “innovation is something everyone seems to strive for these days. Through this course, students will learn the tools that can help unlock and fuel their creative problem-solving potential, all while working together on problems that matter to them. Just like the creative process, this course experience will be messy, fun, and rewarding.”

Course Description

This project-based learning course introduces students to innovation and problem solving using the design-thinking framework. The course emphasizes complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication and teamwork.  The course is a corner stone experience for students in their first or second year at Pace University and is open to all undergraduate majors.

As part of this project-based learning course, students engage in a series of exercises that build upon each other to gain an understanding of the design thinking process including:

  • Gaining empathy to define a problem;
  • Brainstorming to generate creative solutions;
  • Prototyping as a way to represent one or more solutions to show to others;
  • Testing prototypes with the user for feedback.

Students apply the knowledge acquired through these exercises to a team-based project. Projects are based on problems posed by industry clients. Industry clients may include not-for-profit or for-profit organizations. Project deliverables include a mid and end of semester presentation, an electronic or physical product prototype, and written project reflection reports.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • recognize the value of creative thinking;
  • give examples of innovative ideas;
  • apply human-centered design techniques to define a problem;
  • employ ideation techniques to generate creative solutions;
  • recognize the benefits of engaging with students of diverse backgrounds and experiences in the formation of ideas for project solutions;
  • use data synthesis and idea generation to refine problems;
  • prototype, test and iterate a solution with user feedback;
  • use prototyping and storytelling to pitch a solution;
  • demonstrate teamwork in interdisciplinary and self-directed teams

Professor of Information Technology, Dr. Jim Lawler, who teaches the course on the NYC campus, described the course as “an exciting and fun opportunity for students to learn a highly marketable methodology prevalent in entrepreneurial innovative organizations.”

Through this course students will learn about project-based experiences, in particular those offered through the NYC Design Factory.

About NYC Design Factory

The NYC Design Factory is a hub for innovation and creative problem solving housed within the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. The NYC Design Factory welcomes students of all majors. The most popular courses include Product Development Project (PDP),  Product Innovation Project (PIP), and Challenge Based Innovation (CBI). As part of these courses, students travel to Helsinki (Finland), Graz (Austria) and Geneva (Switzerland) to develop solutions for challenges posed by industry clients. These courses link technology, production, and marketing  Check out the NYC Design Factory website to learn more about our offerings. Are you looking for an exciting course to register for in Spring ’19?  Look no further – register for CIS 102Y Design Thinking and Innovation today!

Seidenberg conducts a Rat Relay for New York City Design Factory

Woohoo! This semester’s Rat Relay was an enormous success! Students from Pace and other universities around the world participated in this exciting hackathon from March 20-23 across four days of innovation and design.

Rat Relay is a four day global design hackathon that is run by the Design Factory Global Network, of which our very own NYC Design Factory (NYCDF) is part. During the event, students from different parts of the world worked on real problems for NGOs, non-profits, or businesses located just about anywhere around the world. Nine Design Factories participated in the challenge, which are: NYCDF, Frisian Design Factory, Melbourne Design Factory, Aalto Design Factory, Porto Design Factory, Cali Design Factory, Bogota Design Factory, Warsaw Design Factory and Ghent Design Factory. Students worked together to define the problem a business may have, and came up with solutions through ideation, prototyping, and testing, before finally presenting their materials.

Rat Relay was held in the Seidenberg Lounge at 163 William Street (with students from other universities around the world participating digitally over Skype!). It was a 36 hour event, which was divided into separate slots of 6 hours each. It worked just like a relay – just as one member passes the baton to the next, participants worked on one aspect of the innovation for 6 hours and when time was up for one slot they handed off their project to another team from another part of the world. The new team then picked up the project where the previous team left off.

Here’s what happened in each part:

Slot 1: Tuesday, March 20th, 3pm-9pm

It started with New York Design Factory. The innovation theme they worked on was EMPATHISE (Getting to know the user). The challenge: how to help students with autism learn how to self-advocate. The sponsors – Tech Kids Unlimited – had come and they spoke to the participants about autism in this slot.

Slot 2: Wednesday, March 21st, 8am-2pm

The project was handed off to Aalto Design Factory in slot 2. The aspect of innovation they worked on was REFRAME (Redefining the problem). The challenge they worked on: how to keep people involved in an environmental campaign.

Slot 3: Wednesday, March 21st, 3pm-9pm

Frisian Design Factory worked in slot 3. The theme was IDEATION (Coming up with possible solutions). The challenge they worked on: what to do with the waste from natural disasters.

Slot 4: Thursday, March 22nd, 8am-2pm

The project went to Melbourne Design Factory for slot 4. The aspect of innovation they worked on was PROTOTYPE (Making designs for solutions). The challenge they worked on: home use for graphene floors.

Slot 5: Thursday, March 22nd, 3pm-9pm

Cali Design Factory continued with project in slot 5. The aspect of innovation they worked on was TESTING (Testing the Prototype). The challenge – how to stop kids from joining guerrilla gangs.

Slot 6: Friday, March 23rd, 8am-2pm

New York Design Factory took the project in the last slot. The aspect of innovation they worked on was PITCHING (Presenting all the created stuff). They presented the challenge: how to help students with autism learn how to self-advocate

By the end of the, the distributed team had come up with a solution: a mobile application named “SPEAK UP STREET”. This app teaches the students with autism how to speak up for themselves in real world situations. The app is designed as a game where users choose between a selection of responses to different types of situations. The app challenges users to play in in-game locations such as at home, at a friend’s house, school, and many other social places. When travelling to these locations, users will encounter various situations where they have to respond to a stimulus. Choosing the right option will explain to them why it is right and it will move them forward in the game. If they choose the wrong answer it will explain why it is wrong and ask them to choose something else or come back to it.

It was wonderful to have such an energetic and enthusiastic event when students had just returned from their Spring Break! Hosted by Dr. Jaclyn Kopel, Director of the Pforzheimer Honors College and Interim Director of the NYCDF, each slot of this Rat Relay was packed with excitement. Participants really enjoyed working with people around the world, and there were 50 unique participants in total. From Pace, both undergraduate and graduate students came from the Seidenberg School of CSIS, the Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Science, the School of Education, and the Honors College.

Getting real world experience working for international companies, working with innovation, improving one’s problem solving skills, and working in international, interdisciplinary teams is a hugely beneficial experience for students. Participants received a certificate saying they worked with 9 international companies and 8 countries. Freshmen and sophomores students had the advantage of getting on the NYCDF radar for the expanded versions that involved travel to other countries (Finland, Portugal, Poland, and Austria).

As always, the Rat Relay was an exceptional event and we can’t wait for the next one in the fall!

New Year, New Seidenberg School

A very happy new year to our Seidenberg community, and we hope your break was restful and warm. This year, there was no rest for the Seidenberg School – throughout the holidays, construction crews have been working on both our New York City and Pleasantville campus locations, tearing Seidenberg School apart to make way for exciting new spaces. Walls have come down, and fewer walls have gone back up. We have built new spaces for our students, faculty, and staff to work, collaborate, and relax in. There is a really, really big TV in Pleasantville that can be used for video conferencing and presentations (and Netflix?) – and that’s just the beginning.

NEW YORK CITY CAMPUS

Thanks to a generous support from Pace University, we have been able to take major steps toward becoming the school of computing and technology we have always dreamed of being. Our space in New York City is becoming a STEM haven, with a spacious new collaboration area opening up where the second floor conference room and adjoining lab space was. The conference room has been moved to the opposite corner of the floor, stealing Dean Jonathan Hill and Assistant Dean Stephanie Elson’s offices (oh no!), for a spot which is not only easier to find but will allow bright and spacious video conference work.

The aforementioned collaboration space is a Design Factory must, and the project has included building a new area where groups can come together and use design thinking techniques to ideate, design, and build real world products with international students who visit us through our Product Development Project (PDP) and Product Innovation Project (PIP) programs. The classroom in room 237 is also undergoing a major development. The entire wall adjoining the main floor will be replaced with writable glass for classwork and projects. Even the kitchen is getting a makeover!

Our new collaboration space: before
Our new collaboration space: before
And after! Once our furniture is added, this will be a sleek new spot to study and collaborate
And after! Once our furniture is added, this will be a sleek new spot to study and collaborate

Seidenberg School is not just changing: it’s expanding, too. On the year of the school’s 35th birthday, we have moved out of the proverbial basement and onto the first floor… well, third. While the School is still based on the second floor at 163 William Street, rooms on the third floor have been allocated to fulfil our urgent need for space. We have more students than ever, and the extra room will help greatly with accommodating their needs for work and research space. On the third floor, the Applied Data and Networking Sciences Lab (also known as the Innovation Lab) is moving into what was previously a call center. The room is a huge space where the lab, run by Dr. Jim Gabberty, can continue to flourish. Providing hands-on experience with cybersecurity techniques, big data analysis, and networking using Cisco tools, the lab has already helped a sizeable number of students get excellent jobs since it opened at the tail end of 2016. The displaced Dean Hill and Stephanie Elson can also be found on the third floor, in new offices built where our Mac Lab used to be.

The tenth floor isn’t being abandoned, though – the Computer Forensics lab directed by Dr. Darren Hayes will be moved up into one of the light and bright rooms to allow students to crack codes in a far more pleasant surrounding.

PLEASANTVILLE CAMPUS

In Pleasantville, it’s not just about the new TV. The third floor at Goldstein Academic Center has been refloored, painted, and undergone a chunk of construction itself. New space has been created at the front desk reception area via the removal of the wall-to-wall filing cabinets and new furniture is set to arrive soon to create a much more attractive welcome area for our students and guests.

Sleek new hallways thanks to a paint job and new flooring
Sleek new hallways thanks to a paint job and new flooring

Best of all is the brand new student lounge at the back of the floor. The classroom in room G321 has been torn down to make way for a spacious hangout spot for our students – and all Pace students – to relax, do homework, collaborate, and spend time at Seidenberg. Thanks to funds kindly allocated by Pace University, we have been able to build the kind of student lounge at the Pleasantville campus we have always wanted to offer our students – so once it’s finished, make the most of it! And yes, it does happen to be the same spot as the (now famous) television.

Our new touch TV, with added Tristan for scale!
Our new touch TV, with added Tristan for scale!

The updates at Pleasantville are stage one of our renovation process. Over summer 2018, more construction is planned to upgrade the two laboratories in Goldstein 300 and 315, so stay tuned!

That just about wraps up the physical changes for now, but there are many more changes happening at Seidenberg beyond the way we look. Our department chairs are hard at work with the faculty updating our program curricula to ensure our bachelor’s and master’s degrees offer students great value. Speaking of faculty, we are in the process of hiring new faculty who will help us achieve our mission of providing an excellent academic experience alongside co-curricular opportunities you will find nowhere else. We are extremely excited about growing our team of dedicated professors and expanding our artificial intelligence, data analytics, user experience (UX), and cybersecurity.

We’re very much looking forward to welcoming our incoming students this Spring and growing together as a School, as a University, and as a community.

The new reception area with bonus Jeana
The new reception area with bonus action shot of Jeana

Welcome back to #PaceU!

NYC Design Factory opens at Pace University

nyc-df
It’s finally here! The NYC Design Factory is the twelfth in the ever-growing network of Design Factories around the globe. On Friday, September 30, 2016, we launched our brand new factory with a huge number of guests who came to celebrate with us.

provost
Pace Provost Uday Sukhatme attended the Design Factory launch

Among those in attendance were Pace University Provost, Dr. Uday Sukhatme, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, and very special guest Kalevi “Eetu” Ekman, the founder of the first Design Factory at Aalto University in Finland.

Jonathan Hill welcome
Dean Jonathan Hill gave his welcome remarks at the start of the event

Despite the event’s 8am kickoff, we had an amazing turnout. After spending some time enjoying breakfast pastries and getting to know one another, the program started with introductory remarks from Seidenberg School Dean, Dr. Jonathan Hill.

“I did not know it was possible to empower students like this,” Dr. Hill commented while describing his passion for Design Factory.

Dr. Hill then introduced Provost Sukhatme, who said a few words of congratulations. “I think this is the beginning of good things to come,” said Provost Sukhatme. “Pace students have innovation in their interdisciplinary work. The Design Factory concept falls right into the Pace Path.”

Olga Bogomolova and Eetu Ekman
Program Manager and “Fixer” Olga Bogomolova with Design Factory creator Eetu Ekman

Design Factory creator Eetu Ekman then took the stage and gave a keynote on the incredible ideas behind Design Factory and some of the amazing results that this unique way of product development has yielded. He welcomed the NYC Design Factory to the Design Factory Global Network family.

Deborah Glick
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Vanessa Herman from Pace Government Relations

Dean Hill then welcomed Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who acknowledged that “Pace is a great university in the heart of a world class city. [Design Factory] is bringing people together from across the globe. It is changing the way people conceptualize designing products.”

The final big welcome was given by our good friend Viltsu Lyytikäinen from Aalto, and then it was party time! In true Design Factory fashion, the ribbon-cutting was done not with a ribbon nor a pair of scissors, but with a teamwork challenge that pit our guests against one another! Teams were challenged to fill large empty beanbag sacks (stitched together by our amazing student graphic artist Belle Krupcheck) with thousands of tiny ‘beans’ in order to create fully functional
beanbag chairs. Provost Sukhatme got in on the action, as did Dean Hill, Eetu Ekman, and Assemblywoman Glick. It was a great introduction how Design Factory eschews the norm mere moments after the launch.

Jonathan Hill and Stacey Sarris
Dean Jonathan Hill and UX expert Stacey Sarris celebrate the launch

Guests were then welcome to celebrate with party poppers and small glasses of a pink sparkling substance. Some made the most of the beanbag filling that had managed to get absolutely everywhere during the challenge and made for a snowy scene.

Following the launch was a two hour workshop called Identifying the Next Big Thing.

Design Factory workshop Identifying the Next Big Thing
Design Factory workshop Identifying the Next Big Thing

The workshop aimed to teach participants different methods of identifying opportunities. They can be opportunities for new R&D (research and development) projects, new research, theses, personal projects and much more. Participants learned new brainstorming methods, how to identify opportunities for projects, how to improve their communication skills, how to improve working under a time constraint, and – of course – they got to collaborate with our awesome Finnish guests from Aalto Design Factory!

Participants were divided into teams and had to quickly come up with a new product idea using the Design Thinking method. After the workshop, each team had to do a 30 second pitch (some of which was broadcast over Facebook live!)

Provost Sukhatme
NYC Design Factory: Provost approved

As always, plenty of pizza arrived in time for lunch and helped finish off a fantastic start to one of our biggest and best projects: New York Design Factory.

Thank you to all who came to the Seidenberg School here at Pace University today. We especially want to thank our partners in the Design Factory Global Network who helped us get to where we are today, as well as members of the Pace community and beyond who provided unending support.

A special thanks to our special guests who video linked in all the way from Aalto Design Factory in Finland – it was great having you here!

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Our Finnish friends joined via video from Aalto Design Factory in Finland

Among other Design Factory Global Network guests were faculty and students from Nexus Design Factory, Philadelphia University, and our dear friends from Porto Design Factory, Porto Polytechnic Institute, Rector Rosario Gambôa and fire starter Rui Coutinho. We were so touched that so many of you traveled around the world to celebrate with us in person.

We hope you found the day enlightening and enjoyable, and we can’t wait to see you all again at the NYC Design Factory!