Equipping future design-engineers with the tools and techniques to combine technological innovation with human-centred design.
Six sessions over two-and-a-half weeks
Successful innovation demands not only the effective and often novel application of technology, but also deep insights into what will create real value for customers and society. This requires a more empathetic, human approach to understanding customers’ and users’ compelling needs at a systemic level and devising solutions that address those needs.
The new technologies that are enabling exciting transformations in health, education, transportation, energy and the telecommunications sectors, as well as in consumer sectors such as retail, music and media industries can only be successful if they consider the socio-cultural, political, environmental and economic context and the needs of all of those involved – it demands empathy and creativity combined with an analytical approach to innovation.
This practical and engaging online course will equip you with an understanding of a new approach and the principles, tools and methodologies to become a more empathetic and creative engineer blending science and technology with society and culture.
Students will work on diverse live project briefs developed by the RCA with CERN, Lenovo and NASA.
We are grateful for the support of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851 in developing this course.
About the course
- Introduction to transdisciplinary empathetic innovation
- Understanding systems and the socio-cultural, economic and environmental context for innovation
- Empathic design research: how to identify truly compelling needs and opportunities to create value
- Introducing live project briefs developed by the RCA with CERN, Lenovo and NASA
- Exploring and managing the interplay of cultures and diversity across disciplines as well as across our world
- Innovation in action
- Applying the principles: a creativity and prototyping workshop, reverse disruption
- Example of transdisciplinary innovation at NASA and CERN: understanding intrinsic human needs and technical constraints and apply these to your project assignments
- Presenting your projects to an expert panel of leading designers, entrepreneurs and practitioners.
Disclaimer: The information given is accurate at the time of publication, however, the RCA reserves the right to amend the described course as circumstances dictate.
Personal and organisational benefits
In this course, you will benefit from:
- a new model to reframe innovation through a more empathetic, human-centred, socially and culturally aware approach to innovation
- experience of working collaboratively with design engineers from different disciplines and with practicing professionals
- access to a tightly-knit community of transdisciplinary designers
- enhanced critical, systemic and creative thinking to both research and frame complex problems
- ideation and visualisation skills to clearly communicate design innovations
- techniques for understanding, testing and validating designs with users and stakeholders.
What will you learn?
By the end of this course you will have learnt to:
- apply the latest techniques in human-centred design innovation
- how to identify the context for innovation, be it human, socio-cultural, technological or economic
- identify compelling needs and opportunities to create added value to users and stakeholders
- understand the role cultures and diversity play in design propositions
- use human and technical constraints to your best advantage
- how to prototype, test, refine and validate design innovations.
How will you learn?
This interactive online course is divided into six sessions taken over a two-and-a-half week period.
Learning will take place online in sessions of two-and-a-half hours, followed by small group tutorials with expert practitioners.
The sessions will include a combination of keynote lectures from leading academics and industry disruptors as well as a series of practical exercises. They will involve design ‘sprints’, creative workshops and a final review of project presentations by a unique panel of experts. There will be activities to guide your objectives and outcomes, all the time supported by expert tutors.
Participants may additionally have an opportunity for a post-masterclass discussion with the course leader (optional).
The course is organised in synchronous sessions in a live virtual environment that combines various digital platforms and tools.
Using the videoconferencing service Zoom, the RCA's esteemed academics and facilitators deliver a mix of:
- live lectures
- case studies
- guided assessments
Participants interact with the faculty and peers in breakout rooms in real time.
Participants engage in cross-functional team work with the use of visual collaboration tools.
Through the online whiteboard platform Miro, participants get to:
- interact with various formats and templates
- plan and brainstorm ideas
- create processes and workshop activities in the digital workspace.
The College's learning platform Moodle is personalised according to the course's requirements to provide participants with a secure integrated system where they can access the course content.
The hub hosts a range of useful resources to enable the learning experience, including comprehensive timetables, pre-reading materials, course slides, curated videos, tutorials and session recordings.
Participants stay connected and communicate via the channel-based messaging platform Slack throughout the whole duration of the course.
In this space, academics, facilitators and delegates get to network, plan the course activities, share documents and files during the live sessions or offline.
You will come away from this course with:
- the creative confidence to work as an empathetic design-engineer
- a clear understanding of the different stages of the empathetic innovation process
- practical experience of applying these principles, methods and tools to any project relevant to you
- a reinvigorated sense of what can be achieved when taking a more empathetic approach to innovation, both in terms of the value created for stakeholders and users as well as the social and environmental impact of your design proposals
- a certificate of online attendance.
Who should attend?
- Practising professionals (designers, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs) who would like to develop their human-centred design skills
- Prospective students of Innovation Design Engineering or Global Innovation Design
- Newly qualified engineering and science graduates, especially those supported by 1851 and RA Eng
“The possibility to learn and seek feedback from established, innovative organisations makes this course all more tangible and valuable.”Senior R&D Engineer, Medtronic
“This course offers a different perspective of how design and engineering connects ... the tools and techniques it offers help in the creation of the product that enrich the process of learning and with the possibility of an international team this process complements with the experience of everyone in the group.”Designer
“A hands-on course that will transform the way you frame solutions and envision opportunities within your field of expertise!”Founder, StoryfulBrands
“RCA really dives deep in engaging me to consider the human side of design not just meeting the value to stakeholders, but understanding the customer wants.”Innovation Technologist
Dr John Stevens
John’s diverse academic and industry experience is reflected in his commitment to design across disciplines and cultures. He researches humanitarian innovation through impactful NGO partnerships.View full profile
Dr Nick de Leon
Executive Education and Knowledge Exchange Lead
Nick is Executive Education and Knowledge Exchange Lead in the School of Design, where he leads the development of the School's research and knowledge exchange relations.View full profile
Professor Gareth Loudon
Gareth’s interest is creativity, combining ideas from anthropology, psychology, engineering and design, and has led international transdisciplinary research projects both in academia and industry.View full profile
Designer, entrepreneur and researcher
Maxim is the founder of Holis, an interdisciplinary learning community that works on the most critical ecological and social challenges of our times. He also works as a consultant in collective intelligence, social justice and ecological safety, design and management in general at Liminal and acts as a CEO for CLARA – Center for Rural Future in Portugal.View full profile
Get in touch with Jo Chounta if you'd like to find out more about this or any of our other short courses.