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Master degree students of MEPhI Higher Engineering School take five-day course on “Design thinking”


On the eve of the new academic year MEPhI has held the summer school "Design thinking for engineers" organized by the Higher Engineering School MEPhI. In addition to the key competencies of the engineer, HES MEPhI aims to develop soft skills among future specialists, which includes design thinking.

Lydia Borisova, a practicing service designer, master of design thinking program at the Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland), introduced the basics of design thinking to the students of the program. Students learned about the approaches to solving business cases and the principles of design thinking. "Design thinking is an approach to implement projects of any type and scale, which focus on the end user of the product or service. This is, first of all, a customer-oriented approach, where all actions are performed based on the problems and wishes of the client. To date, the market is saturated with goods and services, competition is very high, and you need to use approaches such as design thinking to create innovation and provide niche solutions. It is necessary to do what will really be in demand at the end, but not add to the list of failed projects. So the course will be useful to future engineers," explained Lydia Borisova.

During the training, students of HES MEPhI developed skills such as the ability to work in a team, present their projects, publicly defend their ideas. Another main goal of the summer school is to teach specialists to think about the end user. Students were given the opportunity to go through all the stages of creating a product from an idea to a prototype and a business. "As part of the school, we teach students to hear the end user and create a product that appropriate his needs," commented Lydia.

At the beginning of the students received cases of really existing problems in MEPhI and JSC “Atomstroyexport”:

  • optimization of the canteen at MEPhI and ASE;
  • optimization of parking in MEPhI;
  • creation of a tracking system for visits to MEPhI;
  • creation of a smart office in ASE;
  • creation of a smart classroom at MEPhI;
  • creation of the online platform for project work of undergraduates HES MEPhI-ASE with a binding to the educational platform of MEPhI.

Elizaveta Likhacheva, 1 year master degree student of HES: "I received the mail and found out about the school. The concept seemed interesting to me, so I decided to take part in it. Together with my group, we chose the case of upgrading the parking at MEPhI. Initially, there were a lot of ideas, but in the course of work we understood that not all of them meet the needs of end users and may even be inconvenient for them. In addition, here I learned how to interview people, what the contact groups are, with whom and how to communicate. My specialty is directly related to nuclear power plants and support of the nuclear fuel cycle, and I know for sure that I will apply the knowledge gained here in my future profession."

The participants of the summer school worked on their cases for four days and on the fifth day presented their projects to the Commission. As part of the group work, students identified the end user, collected information, and then started to create solutions and prototyping. In addition, the participants of the school conducted testing of end users. As a result, the groups got the concepts for cases. At the defense of projects, the Commission praised some of the ideas, for example, a project on optimization of canteen work at MEPhI, prepared by students Daria Kovalenko, Dmitry Lobanov, Anastasia Zaremba and Mark Antipov. "If during the defense or later administration likes any of the projects, they definietely could be implemented," commented the teacher of the summer school "Design thinking for engineers" Lydia Borisova.

We wish the participants to continue working on their projects and use their knowledge both in their studies and in their future profession!

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