Practice design.
Immerse with real community stakeholders.

Community livelihoods in India. Nuclear power in Idaho + Ann Arbor. Carbon Neutrality in Traverse City. Priority Challenges in rural Ecuador.

Priority Deadline: December 8th
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after December 8

Earn up to 6 credits this winter term as you prepare for a 6-8 week field experience in the spring/summer.

In this experiential course, students learn the skills of socially engaged design during the winter semester, engage in hands-on practice with their teams, and then spend 6-8 weeks during the spring/summer immersed in a field site working with a community partner to identify potential design opportunities.

How does it work?

ENGR X55: Finding Genuine Design Opportunities, Winter 2020
Course meets during the 2nd half of Winter 2020 (March 10 – April 21) Tues/Thurs 10am-12pm

Students will work with community partners to i identify assets and needs, define opportunities, and prioritize challenges to work on. They also may identify and document existing solutions and available community-based assets, generate user requirements and specifications related to community needs, and begin to generate initial concepts. The final deliverables for the course are a fieldwork plan (at end of winter semester) and customized report for the partner organization that identifies priority design opportunities in their work (at end of fieldwork). 

Students enroll in the ENGR X55 course that matches their academic level in Winter 2020 (i.e. 355 or 455).


Field Partners for Fieldwork Immersion Experience 2020:

SETCO Foundation, Gujarat, India
The Setco Foundation focuses on healthcare, nutrition, education and empowerment of underprivileged women and children in the Panchmahal district of Gujarat, India. Students will work with Setco Foundation to broadly identify the highest priority challenges facing women and children in a rural village in Gujarat in order to inform the strategy and direction of the foundation’s future work in the district.

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
Idaho National Labs is hosting the construction of several first-of-a-kind advanced nuclear reactors. These new technologies are scalable for use in many new applications, including: powering remote locations, emergency response efforts, and supporting the electrification of transportation. Advanced reactors could be pivotal tools in the fight against climate change, however their potential adoption hinges on the success of community engagement efforts. Students working on this project will research and develop strategies to engage with local leaders and decision-makers in the communities surrounding Idaho National Laboratory, and determine how these strategies could be adopted in other communities as advanced nuclear technologies are deployed in the US and globally in the coming years.

City of Traverse City Green Team, with SEEDS as local host, Traverse City, MI
The City of Traverse City Commissioners passed a resolution to make sure municipal operations run on 100% renewable electricity and also to become carbon neutral by 2050. A diverse Green Team of stakeholder-advisors to the City Manager was formed to provide guidance and wisdom about how to achieve these complex targets. Students will work with SEEDS, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established to implement local solutions to global issues at the intersection of ecology, education, and design. With SEEDS as the local host, students will perform stakeholder interviews and begin to research the most important strategies to prioritize based on an understanding of the baseline consumption patterns of electricity, heating fuels, transportation fuels, and industry. Which are the correct metrics to monitor? Equally important, how might Traverse City to encourage neighborhoods and businesses to engage in the design of solutions that create accessible triple bottom line benefits.

Nido de Vida, La Bolivarense, Ecuador
Through a partnership with Nido de Vida, a family-run educational and agricultural association in rural Ecuador, students will work to understand and prioritize local challenges to bettering the livelihoods of community members. Intermediate to advanced proficiency in Spanish is required.

Fastest Path to Zero, Ann Arbor, MI
The Fastest Path to Zero Initiative at the University of Michigan is helping communities to reach their climate goals. Students working on this project will spend their fieldwork analyzing existing data about the public’s willingness to adopt nuclear energy and creating a strategy to prioritize stakeholders in the state of Michigan. This will include initial outreach to community leaders in Ann Arbor and across the state to gather information which will contribute to developing decarbonization strategies for the state of Michigan.

The City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation, Detroit, MI
The City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation seeks to learn more about what transportation challenges seniors living in Detroit face, specifically as they relate to medical and healthcare needs. Students will spend 6 weeks identifying stakeholders, interviewing seniors, and synthesizing insights to help inform a pilot study that seeks to determine whether providing transportation to healthcare “super users” improves health outcomes overall and what role autonomous vehicles might have in supporting future health related transportation needs of seniors.

Whirlpool, Ann Arbor, MI
As a producer of home appliances, Whirlpool has a key stake in ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront of the design of new technologies for the home. Using the city of Ann Arbor and it’s residents as a focus, students will investigate and uncover what home sustainability and resilience means to people. What are the gaps in the public’s knowledge on home sustainability? How might whirlpool create a model for sustainability education that engages the public and acknowledges that the challenges to implementing sustainable homes are more than technical, but also social and economic? 

Priority Deadline: December 8th
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis after December 8