2016 Human-Centered Design

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Mechanical Engineering
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Course description and aims

This course provides an overview of human-centered design approach for technological innovation. Human-centered design begins with a deep understanding of people and cultural/social contexts of innovation. Students will learn how to understand human needs, behaviors and cultural/social contexts, explore and develop design ideas that are suitable in these contexts.
The aims of this course are to develop an appreciation for design theory and develop skills in the use and application of a variety of
human-centered design methods.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to :
- use various methods to gather useful information about users and human activities (affinity diagrams, scenarios of use, personas, storyboarding, ELITO, AEIOU, usability evaluation...)
- apply the "double-diamond" model of ideation
- question, expand and reframe the initial design problem
- generate a variety of possible user-centered design solutions and choose the most promising one


human-centered design, people, human needs, problem reframing, user test

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

In this course, students will explore theoretical knowledge about Human-Centered Design and will use the knowledge in design workshops, in small groups.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Fundamentals of Human-Centered Design (HCD) Understand how HCD is connected to other engineering and non-engineering disciplines
Class 2 Models of Human-Centered Design Approaches Discover models of HCD approaches (e.g. Pahl and Beitz)
Class 3 Getting started with HCD: Questioning the Question Discuss, expand and refram initial design problem in a project
Class 4 Methods and Tools for Understanding Users (1) Discover methods and tools for exploring human needs and behaviours and their cultural/social contexts
Class 5 Methods and Tools for Understanding Users (2) Discover methods and tools for exploring human needs and behaviours and their cultural/social contexts
Class 6 Using User Data in a Design Project Understand how to use data from user research in the design process
Class 7 Ideation and Creativity Techniques Learn tools and techniques for generating a variety of ideas and exploring the design solution space
Class 8 Presenting a Design Solution Report the whole design process and its outcomes in a visual way


- Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach (2007) Gerhard Pahl, W. Beitz, J. Feldhusen, K. H. Grote, Ken Wallace (ed.), Lucienne T.M. Blessing (ed.). Springer.
- Product Design and Development (2011) Ulrich & Eppinger, McGraw Hill Higher Education; 5th Revised Ed.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

All materials used in class can be found on OCW-i.

Assessment criteria and methods

Workshops in class: 30 %
Final presentation: 70%

Related courses

  • MEC.H231 : Design Engineering
  • TSE.C202 : System Design Project
  • ESD.A501 : Engineering Design Project A
  • ESD.A502 : Engineering Design Project B
  • ESD.A503 : Engineering Design Project C

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)


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