Second semester started off with a bang! The entire freshman class was going to go through a program that Bryant has been utilizing over the last four years, the Bryant IDEA. The Innovation and Design Experience for All is a program that lasts for three days, with field research and classroom learning components. The IDEA program uses IDEO principles and strategies for design thinking to further brainstorming and prototyping. The program aims to change the way participants think about problems and the way they design solutions.
Going into Bryant, I had heard of the basic IDEA program, and knew that I would be participating in it, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that we were going to be divided into groups, or “cohorts” as the leadership team calls them, and then we were going to be given a problem to solve. That was pretty much it. What happened during the program was definitely unexpected but I had a great time learning and growing during these three days.
After doing a variety of team builders, and learning how to participate effectively in the IDEA process, our tasks for the next two days were revealed! The question I was tasked with was, “how can we improve customer experience in the Warwick Mall?” For me, I was instantly intrigued because I love malls, and I love shopping. When I found out we were going to be able to go to the mall and interview and observe people, I was super excited! Going to the mall was great; however, having the opportunity to talk to people and learn more about the mall from the locals perspective was the best thing about the experience because it helped us shape our ideas for improvement.
All through the second night we worked on our initial prototype. We initially built a diorama representation of our solution to the “problem,” The Tupper Teen Center. This was an area that teens could call their own, which includes a lounge space, escape rooms, and a laser tag center. After waking up on Wednesday morning, I thought our team had a pretty good concept, but definitely could improve what we had. Again we came up with another solution to this problem, building a life sized model of a section of the lounge we had designed. We spent the final day showcasing our findings and research to judges and other students in Bello, Grand Hall.
Going through this process definitely opened my eyes to the process of design thinking and how the process works. I definitely had a great experience getting to work with people I did not know and receive advice from alumni, student mentors, staff, and faculty members. I definitely grew as a student through doing this program and I hope to continue to use the principles that I learned through the three days in my other classes and beyond.