The Ideation Support Group (ISG) of the Ateneo Intellectual Property Office (AIPO) held a free workshop on 2021 February 3rd, entitled, “Design Thinking for Students: An Introduction to Real-world Problem Solving”. The workshop was delivered through the use of an online video conferencing platform and was attended by 20 students ranging from undergraduate to doctorate levels. Students mostly came from the disciplines of mathematics, management information systems, computer, material science, and electronics engineering.
A pre-workshop survey conducted by AIPO-ISG revealed that most of the participants have never heard the concept of design thinking before so it was an opportunity for the organizers to instill in the students basic and core concepts of design thinking.
Event poster and screenshot during the design thinking session
Design Thinking is most useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown. It is because the approach looks at the total experience beyond individual transactions which enables researchers to see through the eyes of their end-users. The process begins by defining a problem and then continues with a cyclical process of creating and testing solutions to that problem. It also involves re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing (Dam & Siang, 2019). The whole process consists of five phases namely: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.
Design thinking diagram (Stanford University, 2018)
For the purposes of the workshop, the students were asked to solve issues involving the use, storage, and handling of physical keys. Towards the end of the 1-day workshop, the participants were able to utilize the tools and techniques of the design thinking process in solving the given challenge.
Some groups presented prototypes for pouch or wallet organizers that would hold the keys, some on Swiss knife-like prototypes, and some even went beyond and proposed a keyless system using Internet of Things (IOT). These rough prototypes require a lot more testing and revision in order to be fully materialized and ultimately satisfy end-user requirements, but making that first step-forward is key to innovation.
The five phases mentioned are not always sequential — they do not have to follow any specific order and they can often occur in parallel and be repeated. The design thinking process is iterative, flexible and focused on the collaboration between designers and users, with an emphasis on what the user actually thinks, feels and behaves. This way, it allows designers to embrace the ambiguity and learn from failure by testing and getting feedback as early as possible.
For more information, or if you’re interested in holding this type of activity for your organization, feel free to send AIPO a message at email@example.com.
Dam, R. & Siang, T. (2019). 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process. Retrieved on 2020 February 15 from
Stanford University. (2018). Design Thinking Bootleg. Retrieved on 2020 February 15 from https://dschool.stanford.edu/resources/design-thinking-bootleg
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ateneo de Manila University.