The first-year “Collaborative Design Engineering” studio runs for two semesters, and this year will address the theme of “waste.” The first semester focuses on concrete skill development, cross-disciplinary collaboration, problem identification, and working at solution scales ranging from individual products to systems. During the second semester, student teams will identify a problem that is socially consequential, yet amenable to tractable solutions. As with the food system and health in prior years, waste was chosen as a theme for its systemic breadth and because it embraces both the idiosyncrasies of human behavior and the more predictable constraints and opportunities of engineering logic. Both semesters encourage students to bridge gaps between academic disciplines and the often messy realities faced by practical, real-world stakeholders. Our aim is to promote a design intelligence that engages quantitative and qualitative thinking and incorporates computational, visual, experimental, strategic, and aesthetic methods. Defining the problem by asking the right questions is fundamental to our approach. We define design broadly as both a verb and a noun: an active verb that emphasizes cross-disciplinary, synthesizing process and a concrete noun that promotes aspirational, provocative, well-researched, and plausible solutions.
This first semester studio will consist of three projects, each intended to develop key skills and methods for a specific subdomain of design engineering: Information Design, Object Design, and Spatial Design. Cumulatively, the projects are intended to give each student foundational design engineering skills and to promote a collaborative spirit among a cohort with diverse technical, experiential, and cultural backgrounds. Each of the three projects will prepare students for the second semester, which will focus on an ambitious, semester-long project focused on a compelling aspect of mobility.
The studio will meet three times a week with Mondays primarily dedicated to project pinups and desk crits, Wednesdays primarily reserved for an eclectic mix of exercises and lectures from diverse theorists and practitioners with complementary and occasionally competing perspectives on waste in particular, and design more generally, and Fridays reserved for tool-based workshops.
This studio is limited to first-year students enrolled in the Master in Design Engineering program, a collaborative degree associated with the Harvard GSD and SEAS.