M.Des. Computer Interaction Design

The Program

Duration: 2 years, Full-time
Eligibility: Graduation in Design, Architecture, Engineering, Computer Science, Media Communication, Social Sciences, Psychology

The program is an interactive learning experience. Teaching is by way of facilitation so as to develop critical thinking skills amongst the students. Core of the teaching is studio based, project oriented and blends lectures, tutorials, and intensive group discussions seamlessly to provide a practical, hands-on experience to the students. The teaching is highlighted by specially created assignments and team exercises. Guest lectures are regularly arranged to provide industry insights. A small class size creates opportunities for meaningful interactions with faculty and amongst peers.

Students begin by learning Design Methods. Within Design Methods, students gain a deeper understanding of designing as a problem solving activity in a specific context. The course offers Design Theory and Methodology as a framework that integrates theoretical concepts from different fields, which all contribute to the process and thus to the product. Lectures, discussions and assignments help the students to develop the ability to think critically about the design process and thereby enable them to improve their own design processes.

During this course we explore the theoretical and methodological foundation of designing in depth, as well as look at current debates and best practices. The course attempts to stimulate students into actively engaging with the subject through a number of assignments. Students are taken through design fundamentals which consist of four subareas: design history, hand-drawing, graphic design and form studies. Integration of those subareas aims at the acquisition of design knowledge and skills from several perspectives and development of creative abilities. An industrial designer is expected to master knowledge and understanding of design aspects in a historical context.

The module on Drawing is based upon a general knowledge of visual perception. It is not only essential in obtaining a sense of spatial relationships and ‘shape-awareness’, but also helps develop imaginative visual thinking. Professional designers use specific drawing skills in the design-process as a means of communication, not only to themselves, but also to colleagues and clients. Drawing is learnable like reading and writing; a special talent is not a condition, but a substantial amount of practice is necessary.

The student will also learn to work with form, color, and the meaning of form. Students will get exercises in plasticity (wood, clay or stone), form transitions, proportioning and coloring. Subsequent to model making, students will express form and meaning in mood boards and collages. Students are taught to use digital tools and aids such as Photoshop, Rhino, etc. for effective visualization.

Students who take this class can apply these methods to future projects, helping them express their ideas to others by making their ideas more visible, tangible and real, creating a better emotional connect with their audience. But most importantly, this class will allow students to develop new creative methods in design processes and help give back to the design community.

Understanding ergonomics and human factors is critical to design practice. The course covers topics such as applied ergonomics in the product design process, usage research with a focus on observational studies, physical ergonomics and (dis)comfort, cultural diversity, interfaces, analysis and design, etc.

It is important for companies to develop and introduce new products on a regular basis. One of the main issues facing any company is the decision of which new products should be developed. In the course Strategic Product Innovation students will learn how they can select future directions for a firm based upon a solid understanding of several strategic considerations. Through an internal and external analysis, students will learn the strengths and weaknesses of the company and the opportunities and threats in the market (SWOT). Based on that information, a strategy for the future is developed; i.e., which direction is most suitable for the company? Based on this future strategy, a choice for the market (segmentation) and a positioning and product strategy is developed, along with a first direction for the marketing mix (product, place, price and promotion). During the course, several tools and (market) research methods are presented that are available to product developers in guiding the strategic product innovation decisions.

Corporate and brand identity and the companies’ core competencies form the internal part of the strategic envelope in which new products should be developed. Corporate image, brand positioning and the changing competitive environment are external parts of this envelope.

New products and their related services should build on the company’s core competencies, its brand portfolio and the opportunities in the market. When developing strategies for new products and brands the product portfolio has to be viewed in an integrated way – not only in terms of product families and product platforms, but also over time. This is called Branded New Product Development. Portfolio management and product planning are important ingredients at the Fuzzy Front End of product innovation. Branded New Product Development and Business Strategy are linked. It is not limited to one player at a time; it is a networked cooperation between companies, suppliers, distribution channels and customers.

Human-product interaction deals with the way in which we perceive, understand, use and experience products. This interaction is substantiated by our sensory, cognitive and motor systems. In order to understand how we interact with products, knowledge of these systems and how they limit, enable or facilitate interaction is essential. Our knowledge and insights come mainly from the human sciences. In this course, relevant knowledge and insights will be addressed in a thematic approach. Themes include: use-cues, emotion, sound, cognitive fixation, touch, safety and risk awareness, discomfort, visual aesthetics, multimodal experience and inclusive design.

In order to be able to create products for people, product developers need to know what kind of products people want. What are their desires, needs and problems with regard to current and new products? This course introduces current methods of customer research that can be used to collect information from customers to support the different stages of the product development process. The focus of the course is highly practical: course participants go through a two-stage research project in which they learn to design, carry out, analyze and report on both a qualitative (focus group, interview or observation) and a quantitative (questionnaire) customer study.

The major part of the course work is a sequence of design studios. The design studio is a project-based learning environment, which provides instruction around the design of products. Students are given a problem brief at the beginning of the design studio, which they investigate throughout the design studio sequence. The beginning design studio looks at simple problems. Subsequent design studios increase the complexity of the problem being solved. During the studio work, students understand the design process and apply it to a given problem. They consider business imperatives, technological possibilities, cultural and behavioral factors during the application of design process. In upper level design studios, students think about how the product interacts with its user and how the product exists in an ecosystem by building experiences and services around the product. Faculty members facilitate the entire process of discovery through various methods including lectures, laboratory practice, assigned reading, homework assignments etc.

The advanced design studio takes place in a business context. The main emphasis in this project is on Embodiment Design, which is a structured development of the chosen concept with an output consisting of data on drawings or other media to enable detailed design to be undertaken. From the definition of requirements to the detailed design phase, the design process is characterized by many iterative loops. It is during the embodiment design phase in particular that the joint influences of geometry, material and other factors require iteration of design and calculation. The demand for shorter product development calls for a cross-linked, interactive product development process rather than a sequential approach. Existing products or new product concepts, chosen in cooperation with local enterprises, will be analyzed and feasible improvements proposed.

The final year major project is the most important feature of this program. This project is usually done in co-operation with a company or organization that provides a real life task and setting. The final year project is executed through the Innovation Factory at DYPDC. It is a complete innovative product development process, starting with a strategic product plan for the company, resulting in a design assignment. The design assignment concludes with materializing a prototype of the designed product and a plan for market introduction. The project is intended to promote the inevitable coherence of different disciplines in product development. By the end of the project the student will have learned to turn the interests and goals of the company, and the interests of society and future users, into a materialized form of a product, and gained insight into the use of methods and techniques for product innovation and product development. The student would have learned to integrate all their existing knowledge and skills necessary for the project at hand, to see when new knowledge and skills are needed and to integrate the new knowledge and skills in the project and above all would have learned to manage a complex product development project.

At the end of the program, a student would have acquired the following capabilities:

Would be capable of developing innovative products and product-service combinations to satisfy the needs of the consumer, based on finding a balance between the interests of the designer, the user, industry and society with due regard to international ethical issues.

Would have a thorough knowledge and understanding of, and be proficient in, the execution of the total product design process with an emphasis on conceptualization and would be able to perform and manage this process independently or as a member or the leader of a team, often in an international setting.

Would have a thorough knowledge of the human, aesthetic, technical and environmental issues involved and be acquainted with organizational and economic aspects of products.

Would be capable of an analytical approach to work based on broad and deep scientific knowledge.

Would be able to synthesize knowledge and solve problems creatively when dealing with complex issues.

Would have the qualities needed in occupations that require sound judgment, personal responsibility and initiative in complex and unpredictable professional environments.

Would be able to assume leading roles, including management, in companies and research organizations, and to contribute to innovation.

Would be able to work in an international environment by virtue of social and cultural sensitivity and language and communication proficiency, some of which will have been acquired in teamwork.

Would be aware of any ethical, social, environmental, aesthetic and economic implications of his or her

Would be aware of the need to keep knowledge and skills up to date

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