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Author's profile photo Don Ginocchio

Notre Dame Students Design for the Future of Wearables Technology

   March 2015.jpg

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Michael Brown joined me on campus to visit a variety of Notre Dame classes and continue work with faculty here on new curriculum for next semester.  Michael is Vice President of Global UX and Design at SAP and his expertise ranges from Design Thinking to Visual Communications to entrepreneurship among many other interests.  The main purpose of his visit was to further plan our new “Collaborative Product Development” course with the Notre Dame faculty but we also visited several classes to engage with students.

Michael is working directly with Notre Dame’s Ann-Marie Conrado to redesign a course project around “The Future of Wearables”.  The course next semester will center on a design challenge in the business enterprise domain.  The focus of the challenge is the future of wearables technology used for collaboration by business professionals located
in multiple locations and business functions.  Class project teams will include anthropology, design, computer science and business school majors and each team will design a solution using Design Thinking methodologies for presentation to venture capital firms and SAP executives at the end of the semester.  We have a great working model for the class and will refine it together over the summer months.

The picture above represents excerpts from Monday’s six student team presentations in the Strategic IT course led by Dr. Corey Angst.  SAP sponsored the student project this semester.  Students chose a specific wearable and an industry (or a specific firm) and identified places within the entire supply/value chain of the firm where a specific wearable could yield benefits.  The class exercise served as an opportunity to test some of the design thinking concepts that we hope to incorporate in the full semester Collaborative Product Development class.  We had the pleasure of observing the final team presentations and providing feedback to the students through discussion and written comments.  The teams presented business strategies for emerging wearables technology including sensors in sports equipment, smart jewelry for healthcare, real time brainwave data for user experience, learning sensors for children with disabilities, holographic lenses in the workplace, and Google Glass in Manufacturing.

To take full advantage of Michael’s visit, we connected with students and faculty in several additional ways described below.

  • We visited the Programming Paradigms Course which is taught by Dr. Collin McMillan primarily to Computer Science & Engineering juniors.  It covers a variety of topics listed here – programming language overview: imperative and functional languages; logic programming. Scripting languages and tools. Development environments. Multilanguage interfacing. Case studies. Comprehensive programming practice using several languages. Dr. McMillan asked us to discuss the importance of Design Thinking to SAP and share some perspectives on careers in our industry.
  • We visited with Dr. Nitesh Chawla who leads iCeNSA, an interdisciplinary research center organized around network science problems in social, biological, biochemical, physical, environmental, financial, organizational, technical and defense systems.  We had the opportunity to experience demonstrations by graduate students of two Healthcare IT related research projects.  One centered on childhood obesity management and another related to senior diabetes care.  Both projects are candidates for use of SAP Big Data analytics technology in the future.
  • We also met with Dr. Sunny Shah an Assistant Director and Faculty for the ESTEEM Graduate Program along with two graduate students currently in the program.  ESTEEM is an innovative 11-month entrepreneurship master’s program designed to equip a person with the specific skills required to launch a business.  We discussed the students’ projects and related curriculum.  Michael is also planning to host the entire class of 35 students on a visit to SAP Palo Alto on March 12th.
  • We were in the audience for the Max and Emma Lecture Series sponsored by the Department of Art, Art History & Design on Monday.  The guest speaker was Professor James Fathers from Syracuse University who holds the Iris Magidson Endowed Chair of Design Leadership and serves as Director of the Syracuse University School of Design.  He is also a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.  Fathers’ lecture was titled “Engaged Design: What did design ever do for us?’  He explored the challenge before us is to train a generation of self-aware designers who understand the impact and implications of their actions.

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