SCD Summer Rewind

Reflecting on the 2022-2023 academic year at Siebel Center for Design!

It's been another lap around the sun here at Siebel Center For Design, and we're taking a beat to reflect on all the incredible programming we hosted! From holiday events in the Shop to design thinking intensives, human-centered design workshops and boot camps, and huge student events - SCD is more than a design center, it's a community.

As we continue to move and groove throughout the building, the team at SCD reflected on the 2022-2023 academic year. Staff contributed to an eclectic Summer playlist you can let shuffle in the background. Let's take a look at our highlights in the SCD Summer Rewind.

SCD established the Resident RSO (Registered Student Organization) program to provide a consistent and safe home base for student groups, addressing challenges they faced in finding collaboration space on campus. With accessible physical space, SCD supports the entire design process and aims to infuse human-centered design (HCD) into RSOs' work. Our program fosters organic collaboration amongst all our residents, building a vibrant community that demonstrates the potential of HCD, offering students opportunities to shape their careers and expand networks beyond their major or college. Here are a few examples:

SCD hosted numerous resident RSO events this academic year, including the first-ever VEX Cornfield Clash regional qualifier competition at UIUC on March 4, 2023. The Illini VEX Robotics team took over the entire building, welcoming multiple robotics teams from universities nationwide. SCD members played an active role by assisting in planning, providing resources, and acting as competition judges.

The Fashion Network RSO hosted two Circular Fashion Expo events throughout the year, in another total building takeover by a resident group. The Expo was designed to bring all of the elements of a circular fashion system into one, epic event so that the campus community can collectively create a thriving local circular economy. The Expo includes a clothing swap, vendors of all sorts that are audited for sustainability, student-led upcycling workshops, and a runway show and design competition. 



Academic programs are an essential part of the SCD machine, as they enable us to disseminate design thinking to a wider audience. This involves a strong connection between our assessment and research efforts and the development and implementation of academic programs.

At SCD, we conduct research studies under six areas:

  • Teaching and Learning of HCD Theory and Practice
  • HCD in STEM and STEM Education
  • HCD in Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) and HUSS Education
  • HCD in K-12 Education
  • HCD in the Community
  • HCD in the Corporate World

Under these research projects, we have collaborated with more than 20 faculty and staff members on campus. These collaborations include working with faculty members from Grainger College of Engineering to develop a Human Centered Engineering Framework that builds on existing research in engineering education, and has been shown effective in supporting faculty members to evaluate engineering programs and courses in order to integrate human-centered engineering design objectives and activities in these programs and courses. The framework was successfully presented in engineering conferences and has also informed our collaboration models with other colleges such as Carle Illinois College of Medicine and Gies College of Business.

In order to sustain this work, we have  hired, prepared, and mentored 20 students from different disciplines to do quality scholarly work on these projects. In the past year, two of those students have graduated with dissertations that focused on human-centered design and one of them as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to assist with the growing number of research projects at SCD. Recently, SCD was awarded a $1.375 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled Engaging Teachers in Integrating Human-Centered Design for Geometry Problem-based Instruction in collaboration with Dr. Gloriana Gonzalez in the College of Education.

In The Shop at SCD, our aim is to establish a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals interested in exploring new skills and crafts. To showcase some of the possibilities, we have hosted a series of low-stress introductory activities with new makers who had never seen a laser cutter in action as they tried out engraving on a pumpkin for Halloween, molding chocolates to fill a gift box for Valentine's Day, or interacting with equipment from our media studio for the Mom's Weekend photo booth. 

In addition to our new makers, please meet the talented individuals at SCD who are making a mark in their respective fields:

Jaylon Cox, a student staff member, possesses a wide range of interests spanning graphic design, fashion design, and screen-printing. Starting as a guest, Jaylon has advanced to become part of the Shop+MDC Staff, contributing their creative prowess to the team.

On the research front, we have Irwin Loud, an innovative researcher exploring novel techniques for water desalinization. Leveraging SCD's cutting-edge equipment, Irwin has successfully demonstrated proof of concept, paving the way for securing funding for their own laser.

Lastly, we have McKenna Hansen, a remarkable Sustainable Design Major, who has undertaken captivating projects within the shop. Notably, McKenna recently crafted tactile building maps of SCD, showcasing their dedication to accessibility and design innovation. These individuals exemplify the spirit of creativity and collaboration at SCD.



Workshops & Bootcamps
Workshops are often the first touch-point that SCD has with students, staff, faculty, and the community. They are an introduction to the processes and mindsets of design thinking (DT). They help to develop curiosity about DT as a creative problem solving approach with processes and tools that can be put immediately into action. We also offered requested and in-class workshops where guests could explore the human-centered design process and mindsets such as brainstorming, prototyping, creativity, and communication. These were requested by instructors, RSOs, campus organizations, staff retreats, and more. For the 2022–2023 academic year, SCD hosted 43 workshops and 26 boot camps, with 1,405 total attendees.

When enrolled in SCD courses, students have the opportunity to explore and apply DT within different contexts including health innovation, social design, and immersive experiences. Courses allow for students to take a deeper dive into the key principles of DT, its processes and mindsets and how they can apply DT to their specific fields. SCD offered a total of 7 courses under the DTX course code in 2022-2023, between which 124 students were enrolled. The five faculty members were primarily adjunct instructors coming from industry. 

For example, SCD piloted Introduction to Health Innovation in Spring 2023. Taught by Scott Barrows, who is the Director of Innovation Design Lab at OSF Innovation, this 8-week course introduced students to the landscape of health innovation, learning how and where such innovation can be applied. This course will be a core course for the upcoming Health Innovation Certificate launching in Fall 2023.

SCD collaborated with the School of Social Work to develop and launch a four-course, undergraduate certificate in Social Design. Social Design is a growing discipline that focuses on inclusive expressions of design intended to equitably bring about social change and well-being for people and communities. This certificate, which launched in Spring 2023, was created for all students who want to create positive social change. To kick off this certificate, SCD hosted its first Social Design Jam, hosted by Brandon Middleton, Senior Business Development Manager at Amazon Web Services, and Terrence Pruitt, Co-Founder of Project Restore Initiative.

UIUC currently lacks a UX major, leaving students unprepared to pursue and excel in the growing field. SCD addresses this gap by providing UX programming to educate students about the industry, roles, and career success. SCD's expertise in user experience and human-centered design makes us well-suited to offer these valuable experiences.

This programming includes two key events:
1. UX Career Fair is open to students from all disciplines at the University. This year over 250 students attended the career fair to speak with employers hiring for user experience full-time roles and internships. We hope to increase participation for the Fall 2023 UX Career Fair, being held September 1, 2023 at the Illini Union. 

2. UX Day, which we've designed as a professional development experience to learn about what the user experience job landscape looks like – and to get advice and support to develop the skills necessary to find internships or full-time roles in UX. The program this spring hosted 25 alumni presenters from companies such as: Accenture, Intapp, Southwest Airlines, John Deere, Motorola, NCSA, and more! The day included a UX poster session featuring registered student organizations, breakout sessions for both “UX newbie” and “Advanced” tracks, group “Ask Me Anything” sessions with the presenters, as well as ample networking opportunities and free head shots for attendees. We look forward to hosting the next UX Day at SCD in March 2024! 

Part of SCD’s mission is to bring human-centered design to the community. To achieve this, SCD has participated in several outreach programs to engage with the Champaign-Urbana community. In a collaboration with Krannert Art Museum, SCD welcomed art students from Urbana Middle School to explore opportunities in art and design. Middle school students participated in a series of introductory social design activities that included collaborative brainstorming and low-fidelity prototyping. Other outreach programs included providing a design thinking workshop for the Champaign Public Library, as well as developing camp around human-centered design for adolescents in collaboration with the Urbana Park District.

Wellness Spaces
In partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and Habitat for Humanity ReStoreWellness Spaces is a project centered around environmental wellness. The purpose is to create an immersive and interactive display to start a conversation with the customers and local community about wellness in the built environment, showcasing research-based elements that make a space promote either wellness or induce stress. To demonstrate this concept, the Siebel Center for Design built two living spaces side-by side in the Re-store. The two rooms - one promoting well-being and the other stress and unease - were furnished primarily using furniture populated from the ReStore. The objective is to show customers that whatever they purchase can be manipulated in different ways to create a completely different vibe. They can therefore make more informed purchasing decisions.


The pieces in the Gallery of the SCD Building showcase the many ways we use design across campus, and highlight multidisciplinary collaborations that bring research, practice, and human-centered design together. From architecture to scenic technology, accessibility to augmented reality, human-centered design is something we can all use, in any discipline, to become better problem-solvers.

SCD commissioned an art installation for the main level public spaces called the “Animate Arcade”, based on the research from UIUC’s own Joseph Altshuler from the School of Architecture. Altshuler’s research is presented in the book titled “Creatures are Stirring” and focuses on the intimate relationships we can create with physical spaces and architecture. Joseph even commissioned animations of our new "creatures" in the Gallery!

Additionally, SCD has now installed the backdrop for the stage production of The Royale at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The backdrop is a recreation of the original oil painting by visual artist Nikko Washington, commissioned by KCPA and currently housed at the Krannert Art Museum. Normally, this backdrop would be folded up and tucked away in a back corner, perhaps never to be seen again. KCPA and SCD staff worked together to instead hang the beautiful work of art in SCD’s main level Gallery space, to be seen by the hundreds of students, staff, faculty, and community members that travel through the space daily.

As we wrap up the 2022-2023 academic year at Siebel Center for Design, we're excited to be looking ahead to a brand new horizon. While things in the building are shifting, we're offering new and innovative learning opportunities in design thinking, and our Shop and Labs are looking better than ever - SCD is always committed to providing the best resources on campus for human-centered design.

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