Practice design with real stakeholders in real communities.

Dexter Schools.  The DIA.  Rural Ecuador. Or even right here on North Campus!

Whether you’re already working with a project team or you’re seeking a new opportunity, C-SED now offers a course for you! Earn up to 5 credits this winter term as you prepare for a 4-6 week field experience in the summer.

Student teams receive training and oversight while they perform rigorous field-based needs exploration and problem definition. Students gain real-world experience applying socially engaged design skills and partner organizations receive articulated and validated needs from which to develop future projects.

Apply now to be considered for a seat in this pilot course.

How does it work?

ENGR X55: Finding Genuine Fieldwork Opportunities
Up to 5 credits, Meeting Dates & Times TBA, 3360 GG Brown

In this course, students receive training and oversight in the front-end design process during the semester and then spend 4-6 weeks immersed in a field site while they use design ethnography skills to perform rigorous needs exploration and problem definition. Students will work with community partners to identify and refine needs, define the problem, and prioritize and select needs to work on. They will also identify and document existing solutions and available community-based assets, generate user requirements and specifications related to the need, and may begin to generate initial concepts. The final deliverables for the course are a problem and needs statement report for the community partner and a pitch-format presentation with general concept solutions for one of the needs.

Students have the opportunity to use the needs statement and initial concepts generated in this course to seed a project for a future course, internship, design challenge, or another appropriate venue.

Students enroll in the ENGR X55 course that matches their academic level in Winter 2018 (i.e. 355 or 455).

Field Partners for Immersion: Students may apply a number of C-SED immersion sites currently in development or propose their own. 

C-SED Partner Field Sites:

  • Dexter Community Schools:
    Through a partnership with Dexter Schools, students will work with 3rd and 4th grade classes at Wylie Elementary School to identify environmental and human impacts and needs related to the construction of a new school-building and the relocation of sports fields. Participants will meet with teachers, students, and school administrators to conduct a needs assessment alongside 3rd and 4th grade science classes.Ideal candidates will have experience engaging with children in an educational setting.
  • Detroit Institute of Arts:
    Through a partnership with Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom (MECC), students will work on interviewing stakeholders and identifying needs and opportunities at the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA), a landmark, iconic institution in the city of Detroit.  The DIA wants to know how to “activate their campus” to make it more engaging to both urban and suburban stakeholders. Challenges already identified include addressing the underutilized formal entrance on Woodward Ave, improving wayfinding and signage, and looking into mobility issues. The team’s efforts will help shape a larger, regional community engagement strategy as well as the conceptual design stage of the project’s development.Ideal candidates will be studying Art & Design, Engineering, Architecture, and/or Museum Studies and have an interest in arts and/or urban planning.
  • North Campus Sustainability:
    Through a partnership with C-SED and the U-M Energy Institute, students will identify needs and opportunities to increase the use of renewable energy on North Campus.  With new construction always underway on North Campus, there are ongoing opportunities to incorporate green building practices in addition to countless opportunities for retrofits and improved space utilization.  This initiative contributes to the overall University of Michigan target to reach 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025.Ideal candidates will have background and interest in sustainable engineering or alternative energy.
  • Nido de Vida Ecuador:
    Through a partnership with Nido de Vida, students will explore renewable energy options with a rural farming community in Ecuador. Selected students will be involved in information gathering and needs identification around the viability of various renewable energy options.Ideal candidates will be passionate about environmental stewardship and sustainable community development, have experience in the design / study of renewable energy, able to ask for help and communicate needs, and eager to build relationships and have a cross-cultural experience.  Must be conversational in Spanish.

Propose Your Own Partner Field Site:

Good candidates for student-proposed field sites are already established partners with an opportunity for further needs exploration.  Examples might be partners of student organizations like BLUElab or M-HEAL or expansions on faculty research relationships or MDP projects.

Apply now!


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