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Design Innovation

Design innovation empowers Northwestern students to imagine a new future.

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It all starts with
PEOPLE.

We teach design innovators to apply a human-centered approach to problem-solving and expand the research frontiers of design. Discover our range of programs featuring hands-on, interdisciplinary projects that solve real problems for real people.

Design Innovation is about
mindset, process, and tools.

Mindset

Mindset: Design innovation is serious play. Adopt a designer's mindset: let go of fear of failure and have a solution-focused attitude. You'll be better able to take risks and design what's next.

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Mindset
Process

Process: The design innovation process involves some version of these steps: identify, ideate, and iterate. The goal: allowing you to design with the end user always first in your mind.

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Process
Tools

Tools: There’s no big prize for correctly solving the wrong problem. Tools like user observation help you understand the people you’re designing for and build empathy for their situation.

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Tools

Human-Centered Design Projects

At both the graduate and undergraduate level, our students work on projects that produce tangible results and improve the lives of people around the world. Our team-based approach to education encourages students to use design thinking together to solve complex, authentic problems in product, interaction, service, and business design.

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Well Plate Assembly

Well Plate Assembly

Northwestern undergraduates partnered with NorthShore University Health System to make a positive impact in a medical research environment.

Using a well plate allows a lab at NorthShore University Health System to test thousands of compounds rapidly.

However, the process had a flaw, causing variable waviness in the plate. Northwestern Engineering students worked together to find a solution.

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Photo of the Spotlight logo.

Spotlight

An online resource featuring strategies that college campuses can implement to raise awareness of life threatening food allergies.

There's hope for food-allergic students transitioning to college.

A team of EDI students collaborated with food allergy experts to develop a toolkit to help colleges better prepare for and support food-allergic students.

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The world’s most versatile ultra-lightweight lantern

Fire + Light

A graduate student studying biotechnology invented an innovative camping lantern for outdoor adventurers.

While camping, biotechnology graduate student Stephanie Wiegel discovered a ‘pain point’ associated with her headlamp.

A headlamp is essential for camping and hiking to ensure safety in the dark, but it has a spotty, harsh light which limits its uses for social lighting. How might this tool be improved?

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Who we work with

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James Kubik
James Kubik

James Kubik

MaDE '14

"So much of Segal Design Institute is about how design and engineering go hand in hand in a very practical sense. You’re doing both engineering and design at the same time in the same class and that’s the beauty of the MaDE program."
See James' startup venture

Wendy Roldan
Wendy Roldan

Wendy Roldan

Segal Design Certificate '17

"With the mentorship I received at Segal Design Institute and Delta Lab, I have discovered my passion for research at the intersection of design thinking, manufacturing, and engineering."
See Wendy Roldan's project

Pam Daniels
Pam Daniels

Pam Daniels

Design Innovator in Residence

"Design is about discovering and creating the answers together. It's about surfacing real human needs, exploring how those needs might be addressed, and then collaborating to bring ideas to life in a compelling way."
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Julie Hui
Julie Hui

Julie Hui

Segal Design Cluster Fellow

"I study how social technologies are opening opportunities to career development. As a Segal Design Cluster Fellow, I’ve been provided the resources and human-centered perspective to work with innovators in Chicago and across the country."
See Julie Hui's research

Michael Beltran
Michael Beltran

Michael Beltran

Director, 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping Lab

"I've always enjoyed getting my hands dirty while building and getting a complex prototype to work. Now I am able to show students how to get to that same place and it's rewarding to see the look in their eyes when it all finally makes sense."
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Alexander "Sasha" Mitts
Alexander "Sasha" Mitts

Alexander "Sasha" Mitts

Current EDI student

“Segal feels very much like a family. EDI specifically has helped me grow from being a person who lived in a world of under-explored hypotheticals and has given me the tools to concretely test how those possibilities could improve the world.”
See Sasha Mitts' project

What we teach

The interdisciplinary academic programs at the Segal Design Institute provide undergraduate and graduate students with collaborative training at the forefront of innovation and human-centered design.

Explore our opportunities to find a program that best fits your goals.

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Undergraduate Study

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Whether you're looking to take a single design course or earn your bachelor's degree or certificate in design, Segal provides a wide range of exciting opportunities for undergraduates.

Master's Graduate Study

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Discover the right program to position yourself for the next step in your career in industry, research, or academia.

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PhD Graduate Study

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PhD students at Segal work in the Design Cluster, an interdisciplinary doctoral cluster program jointly sponsored by Segal, the McCormick School of Engineering, and The Graduate School at Northwestern.

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Executive Education

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The Segal Design Institute has partnered with the Kellogg School of Management to offer two dynamic programs for mid- to senior-level executives‚ created to catalyze innovation through design thinking.

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WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF

Design Innovation

Design innovation creates value using design-centric tools and frameworks such as empathy, visualization, prototyping, and iteration. By acquiring design innovation skills, we are prepared to find and frame problems, identify opportunities, and innovate across a variety of spaces. We are ready to bring our ideas to life.
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