Practice design.
Immerse with real community stakeholders.

Electronic waste recycling in Michigan. Resilience hubs in Ann Arbor. Community livelihoods in India. Nuclear power in Idaho. Transportation in Detroit. Water in rural Ecuador.

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
Up to 6 credits, FRIDAY 1-4, 3360 GG Brown

Students will work with community partners to identify and refine needs, define opportunities, and prioritize needs 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 presented at winter 2019 Design Expo and customized report for the partner organization that identifies priority design opportunities in their work. 

Students enroll in the ENGR X55 course that matches their academic level in Winter 2019 (i.e. 355 or 455).

Field Partners for Fieldwork Immersion Experience:

SETCO Foundation, Gujarat, India
The Setco Foundation focuses on healthcare, nutrition, education and empowerment of the 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.

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 map out the water sources in the area and identify challenges, barriers, and health risks around these sources for this farming community. The resulting research will help Nido de Vida and the community of La Bolivarense increase their understanding of what sources exist, how they are being used, what might threaten health of the community and to offer possible paths forward to address water challenges. Students will also be developing user requirements for water storage solutions for local families. Intermediate to advanced proficiency in Spanish is required.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Electronic Waste Recycling Program
The State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is setup to receive a wide variety of old and unused electronics for recycling, yet participation in this important program is low. Students will work with the Michigan DEQ to investigate and identify the barriers to Michigan residents recycling their old electronics. Students may perform fieldsite work in and around Lansing, MI and/or the Upper Peninsula.

City of Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovations
Resilience Hubs are community-serving facilities designed to support residents and coordinate resource distribution and services before, during, or after a natural hazard event. Students will with with the City of Ann Arbor to understand resident’s needs, perceptions, and priorities around natural disaster preparedness and response in order to inform the design and implementation of resilience hub facilities in Ann Arbor neighborhoods.

City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation
The Office of Mobility Innovation is focused on making it easier for people to get around Detroit by introducing new mobility pilots throughout the City. Students will work with The Office of Mobility Innovation to better understand the transportation needs of residents across the city in order to inform future iterations of systems, programs, and technologies.

Idaho National Laboratory / Center for Modern Nuclear, Idaho
Idaho National Laboratory 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 develop and implement 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
The City of Traverse City Commissioners passed a resolution 2 years ago 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. Though SEEDS as the local host, students will work with stakeholders and research the most important strategies to prioritize based on an understanding of the baseline consumption patterns of electricity, heating fuels, transportation fuels, and industry. Researching questions about the impact of landuse options, such as the tending of trees, have on carbon and on quality of life metrics. Which are the correct metrics to monitor? Equally important, explore how to encourage neighborhoods and businesses to engage in the design of solutions that create accessible triple bottom line benefits.

Apply now!