Competency Areas

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All activities described on the other university pages resulted in the growth as a designer. On this page, I will shortly reflect on the five competency areas of a designer defined by the Industrial Design faculty of the Eindhoven University of Technology and relevant skills for designers. In these reflections, I will discuss how I have grown in this competency area and how this competency area relates to my final bachelor project.

Creativity & Aesthetics

In the competency area of Creativity & Aesthetics, I have grown the most during my study. At the beginning of the Bachelor Industrial Design, my designs would often be incoherent and messy. Furthermore, I did not know how to make something that did look aesthetically pleasing.

This is also why I decided to follow the courses Basic Formgiving Skills and Tangible and Embodied Interaction. Both of these courses focus on prototyping and aesthetics. This way I could train these skills and get feedback which helped me to grow. As a test whether I was able to make aesthetically pleasing materials, I decided to change the corporate identity of Team CASA. By designing both a new logo and house style, I was able to see how I had grown as a designer.

In my Final Bachelor Project, I made the design of the prototype in InDesign, printed on whiteboard and cork and finally cut out the design using the belt saw in Vertigo. The cards were made in InDesign and printed on thick paper in Metaforum. I am satisfied with the aesthetics of the design and most design choices have reasoning on why I made the design like this.

Technology & Realization

Technology & Realization is a competency area that has always been closer to the subjects I am comfortable with. I have always liked to think about realization possibilities of concepts and how to make things.

During my Bachelor, I worked on the electronics for all my projects. This way, I got a feel what kind of projects were possible to realize in the short term. Furthermore, by being active in a student team, I worked with high-end technology and learnt what the possibilities are in this spectrum. Since this is such a complex system, I also learnt about the importance of different part requirements.

I have not used any electronics in my final bachelor project, as it was not necessary for the concept. However, I was able to make a high fidelity prototype of the concept, since I knew the different properties I needed and how I would be able to achieve these properties.

User & Society

I think User & Society is the most important competency area. I do not want to design for the sake of designing, but only design for a problem for a user or a societal problem. This is why I think it is important to be in contact with the user and society and be able to analyse their problems.

During my Bachelor, I was able to conduct a lot of user tests and user interviews. This way, I was able to get a feel on how to understand users and find their problems. Furthermore, my minor Sustainable Innovation helped me to explore different societal problems and how to analyse these with different lenses and different levels. Finally, In my student team, I was able to work hands-on on a big societal challenge.

In my final bachelor project, I was able to talk to a lot of different users and stakeholders. At the beginning of the project, I talked to producers and an industrial symbiosis initiator. These interviews helped me to understand the underlying problems, which let me develop the iterative discussion model. Furthermore, by going back and forth between different perspectives (other innovators, myself as an innovator and an innovation researcher), I was able to address the bigger societal need.

Business & Entrepreneurship

(C) Bart van Overbeeke

Besides being able to design for a problem, it is also important to be able to sustain a design and yourself. For this, it is important to become a professional entrepreneur and understand the business opportunities that are available when working on a problem.

In my bachelor, I followed the New Product Development and Marketing USE-line. This meant I followed a package of courses to understand the theory of marketing. This together with the economics of innovation courses I followed in my minor, gives me a strong theoretical base about business. However, I found this competency area is mostly developed by practice. Luckily, I have done this a lot in Team CASA. By going to different conferences and network events, I was able to learn how to grow my network and find business opportunities to help us grow. Furthermore, I have learnt how to deal with the follow-up and negotiations with partners and stakeholders.

In my final bachelor project, I have not made a business model in the traditional sense. I did add extensions packages, so it would be possible for people to start with a smaller edition and slowly build on the model. However, I think it would be more interesting in the beginning phase to give workshops about the model. For this, I am talking to people from Brabant and employees of Erasmus University have also expressed interested in testing the model.

Math, Data & Computing

Math, Data & Computing is an important competency area, as it helps to develop prototypes and make fast easy user tests. Furthermore, it can help to analyse the data of the test, to validate and improve the designs.

In my Bachelor, I always took the tasks that involved programming. This was mostly because I believed it as fun and liked solving the puzzle of how to solve the interaction. Furthermore, I followed a course statistics extracurricular, to make sure I would be able to analyse the data that I would gather from tests. Finally, I have worked as a calculus tutor for three years, making sure I would regularly practice my calculus as well.

In my final bachelor project, I used coding to develop the minute making tool. Here, I coded the interaction for being able to choose a location to type, be able to type and link an activity to this input and plan it. I did not use statistics, as due to the limited time I had too little data to do relevant analysis. If I were to continue with the project, I would be able to do this.

Design & Research Process

Besides the five set competency areas, there are two other important competencies for designers. One of these competencies is being able to do research for and through design. This is important to increase knowledge about design and improve your designs.

This competency has been present in all projects in my Bachelor. This is as in every design project, I had to do research to make sure I understood the problems I was designing for. Furthermore, courses like Design <> Research gave me a theoretical basis on how to address this process. Finally, in my major, the focus was on the design part of the process. However, as my minor focused mostly on giving advice, I was able to train the academic approach to research even more.

In my final bachelor project, I follow this Design & Research Process very clearly. The process started by doing literature research to spark inspiration for an initial brainstorm. After this, more literature research was conducted to work out the concept. With this concept, I did field research by interviewing potential stakeholders. After this, I changed my concept and continued going back and forth between designing and doing interviews or literature research to improve and validate my design.

Scientific & Professional Skills

Finally, it is important as a designer to be able to handle the research conducted in a scientific manner and go through a project in a professional manner. If you do not do this, your research becomes useless and the project becomes impossible to properly finish. Scientific & Professional Skills include presenting, planning and dealing with and reporting scientific information.

Just like the Design & Research Process, this is a skill that is relevant in all courses and projects. Besides the regular courses, I feel I have trained these skills even more by being in a student team. As I was part of the board of Team CASA, while still studying fulltime, I constantly had too little time. This meant I trained myself in planning ahead and sticking to this planning. Furthermore, as my responsibility was to promote the team and spread its vision, I have trained to present consistently and know what I should do before, so I am comfortable doing it. Finally, I have trained the scientific skills not only in the regular industrial design courses and project, where research is part of the process but also in my minor. Sustainable Innovation is a study more focused on research and advice, so here I had to professionally present my scientific findings as well.

In my final bachelor project, I did not make a planning that I knew what I would do in the different weeks. This was because I noticed that I like to be more flexible in a design project. However, I did set fixed hours in the week in which I work on the project and planned ‘milestones’, when I wanted to have achieved certain things. I feel this planned flexibility works best for me in design projects. Furthermore, I used literary frameworks as the base of my design. This made that I had to be able to translate this scientific information into terms that are used in everyday life.

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