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Frequently Asked Questions

*** Notice to students, parents, and project partners:  The Design Thinking & Communication program will continue to follow Northwestern and community COVID-19 safety guidelines. ***

I want to be a project partner, but I don't know anything about engineering. Is that a problem?

Not at all. Past partners have had all kinds of backgrounds. You don't need to know anything about engineering or design. You just need to have a problem you're trying to solve.

How big is the time commitment?

You'll meet with a team of students four times during a ten-week term. The total time commitment for you will be about 4-7 hours.

When will I meet with the students?

The students working on your project will need to meet with you four times during a ten-week term. You will be given the dates in advance and the students will be respectful of your schedule. The timeline for a DTC project is:
  • Initial Meeting – Week 2 of the term (1-2 hours)

  • User Observation – Week 3 of the term (1-2 hours)

  • User Testing – Week 6 of the term (1-2 hours)

  • Final Presentation – Week 10 of the term (1 hour)

What do "user observation" and "user testing" mean?

During user observation, students will look at how the end user performs a task or they'll try to encounter the problem firsthand. During user testing, students will bring the end user a prototype to try out.

Who is an "end user"?

An end user is the person or people who will actually use the prototype.

Do I have to pay a fee or give money for this?

No. There is no cost to participate. Northwestern provides approximately $100 per student team for materials. If you wish to have more costly materials used, you can provide either funds or materials to the team.

Do I get to keep the prototype that the students make for me?

Yes! The student team's final report and prototype will be provided to the client at the end of the term.

I have a question about intellectual property. Can you answer it?

We will try. Please read the Student & Partner Understandings Form first. If you still have a question after reading the form, please email Bayleigh Smith, project coordinator for the Segal Design Institute.

What if I still have a question?

Please email Bayleigh Smith, project coordinator for the Segal Design Institute.
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