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DTC Process and Partner Expectations

As a project partner with Design Thinking and Communication (DTC), you will be working with teams of first-year engineering students.

DTC is an introductory engineering design course required for all first-year engineering students at Northwestern. DTC students work on teams, integrating communication skills and design thinking to understand user needs, ideate potential solutions, and build initial prototypes.

Our students bring a lot of enthusiasm, energy, and creativity to help solve your problem and they take the project very seriously. They will be in regular contact with you while being respectful of your schedule.

The Design Process

Our students' design process involves the following:

Student & DTC Project Partner Understanding

While our project work focuses more on the design process than the end product, many DTC student teams are able to produce partially functional prototypes within two months. Past DTC partners have been pleased with the innovative ideas and physical mock-ups our students produce.

If your DTC project proposal is accepted, you will given a hard copy of the student and partner understandings form (PDF)  to sign and return. Please review this document prior to submitting a project proposal so that you have a clear understanding of what is expected from you as a partner.

DTC Partner Expectations

DTC projects are most successful when partners take an active role in the design process. Partners are expected to:

DTC Project Timeline

Initial Meeting- Week 2 of the quarter

You meet the team, explain the project, they ask you questions about the project. In Fall and Winter quarters, this meeting must be on campus. In Spring quarter, students can meet clients at a convenient location. 

User Observations- Week 3 of the quarter

You connect the teams with final users of the project, the teams meet and observe the user and observe the design challenge in action. Teams will travel to observe users. 

User Testing- Week 6 of the quarter

By this point, the teams will have a design idea, which they will bring to you and to final users for testing and feedback. 

Final Presentations – Week 10 of the quarter

In Fall and Winter quarters, the final presentations take place at Design Expo, on the Saturday after week 10 of the quarter. In Spring, presentations take place during the final exam period of the class (differs by class, students will confirm the final time with clients in the first few weeks of the quarter).


Submit a DTC Project Proposal

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