Examining a Trajectory of Complex System Design Processes: Airport Eco-System Case Studies by Novice Student Teams

Volume 4: 19th International Conference on Design Education (DEC)(2022)

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Abstract As the aviation industry has become more complex and uncertain, we need to teach aviation topics with different pedagogical approaches: making the educational setting interdisciplinary and more design- and user-driven. We developed a design curriculum to address emerging complexity around air travel journeys and piloted the curriculum at a major research university in the Netherlands. Novice students in engineering, design, and social science programs in the Future of Airport minor on campus engaged in a quarter-long design course centered on the seamless air travel experience. The course aims to teach students how to approach the complexity of an airport and the stakeholders involved and design for people in transit. Data were collected from the results of work in document format (project progress reports and final deliverables) from thirty-five student teams who collaborated with aviation industry sponsors to develop solutions to address complex system-level industry design challenges. We classified the detailed project brief and outcomes by different innovation levels (product, service, system, or socio-technical), and examined the design methods implemented by each team over the design process. Our discussion is divided into (D1) trajectory of levels of innovation traveled during the project execution, (D2) descriptive reflection on overall selecting design methods, (D3) design method selection dynamics over design phases in complex problem domains, and (D4) challenges of offering a design approach to novice engineering students, drawn from the reflection by course coordinators and coaches on the course structure and contents.
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