Driving Innovation Through Design

April 19, 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the Driving Innovation through Design workshop on April 15th and 16th in Evanston. The workshop was the last in a series of workshops sponsored by the National Science Foundation to explore the increasing role of design in business, arts, journalism, and engineering education.

picture of team in breakout section at driving innovation through design NSF conference
My team at the breakout session during the Driving Innovation through Design workshop.

A unique aspect of the workshop was the mix of disciplinary and occupational backgrounds the participants came from, including academic researchers and administrators, practicing artists and engineers, investors, and journalists, to name a few. Perhaps to facilitate discussion across these different backgrounds, the workshop included a session where we broke into small groups of six or seven people. During the breakout session, we were asked to develop a short presentation that presented a central aspect of design or design education. After exploring many ideas, we converged on the idea of “visual literacy” as a central aspect of design. That is, the ability to visualize concepts is necessary to bridge the gap between quantitative understanding and verbalcommunication.

a schematic for visual literacty developed during conference
A sketch demonstrating how visual literacy is a central aspect of design education.

As a shameless plug, I should also mention that the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University used a site that we developed at Datascope Analytics to illustrate to the conference members how the design community is organized at Northwestern. The map of connectivity can be seen here.

contributors to this post

headshot of Mike Stringer
headshot of Dean Malmgren