2016 System Design Project

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Academic unit or major
Undergraduate major in Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering
Saijo Miki  Kishimoto Kikuo  Takada Jun-Ichi  Inaba Kazuaki  Hayashizaki Noriyosu  Shirabe Masashi  Abe Naoya  Sagara Hiroshi 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
Day/Period(Room No.)
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
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Course description and aims

System design is to design a mechanism for solving problems through mediated tools. The function of a tool in problem solving is dependent on the user's situation- no matter how creative and highly functional as viewed from the creator, it is useless unless it helps the user. In the classroom, in order to design the “useful tool”, we will learn what is user empathy, how to define the problem, how to create a prototype of tools (machines) based on the problem definition, and how to conduct user testing through practicing the process of "design thinking". In addition, this class aims to grasp the concept of user-centered design as a theoretical background to design thinking.

Student learning outcomes

This class aims to acquire the concept of “user-centered design” through a practicing workshop based on a fundamental process of problem-solving with design thinking, "sympathy", "problem definition", "creation", "prototype" and "user-test"


design thinking, user-centered design, prototype, user-test

Competencies that will be developed

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

Class flow

Students work in a team throughout this course and design a mechanism for solving problems that are mediated by tools. Guest speakers are invited as necessary.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Guidance What is the user-centered system design? What kind of “inconvenience” would be solved by tools? Each instructor specifies the tasks during class.
Class 2 Acquire the concept of “user-centered design” through a practicing workshop based on a fundamental process of problem-solving with design thinking, "sympathy", "problem definition", "creation", "prototype" and "user-test".
Class 3 Methodology of design thinking; from sympathy to idea generation :peer process
Class 4 The methodology of design thinking; from prototyping to user-test and feedback: peer process
Class 5 Visitor Session: What to learn from people who know well the difficulties and challenges Interview technique for digging deep into needs, facilitation techniques for changing problems to tasks.
Class 6 Design problem-solving for the informant; from empathy to idea generation
Class 7 Design problem-solving for the informant; from idea generation to prototyping
Class 8 Improvement of prototypes and reflection: What was possible and what was not


Non required.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Communication Design Miki Saijo Kuroshio Shuppan
Other materials are provided during class

Assessment criteria and methods

Group work and presentation during class and home-work: 50%
Final report: 50%

Related courses

  • TSE.C201 : Introduction to Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering
  • TSE.C203 : Social Design Project
  • TSE.A318 : Introduction to Design Engineering

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


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