On the 5th May 2018, EWB-Maties and EWB-UCT hosted their first ever collaborative event at the Faculty of Engineering in Stellenbosch University.
Over the last few years, EWB-SA have encouraged chapters to host HCD events which aim to enrich our members’ understanding of the importance of sustainable design focusing on problems that aim to fulfil real human needs. We, however, identified that in order for HCD to be effective, the engineers implementing such thinking and problem solving need to understand the impact they have as individuals on the success and/or failure of such solutions. We realised, that many engineering students often get discombobulated with the pressures that the degree often brings, and thus, seldomly reflect on how they could better themselves.
As a result, we not only conducted a workshop on Human Centred Design and Design Thinking, but included a Personal Development aspect as well.
The Personal Development Workshop kicked off the mornings proceedings and involved our members receiving a lecture, group mentorship and reflection session on Personal Mastery. It is becoming increasingly evident that leadership occurs in a relationship between people. The leaders that survive and add value to their organisations are those leaders that are able to think about their behaviours and moderate them to the needs of their organisation and the stakeholders they engage with, based on feedback from their environment. Further, it is increasingly clear that good leadership is practiced again and again and again. Most people are not simply born with relationship skills and do not learn them whilst growing up. Most people learn to focus consciously on making use of their strengths whilst mitigating their weaknesses. As a result, the workshop on Personal Mastery aimed to facilitate experiential learning of ones’ self through story-telling and reflection.
The workshop was facilitated by 6 Well Established and incredibly successful Corporate and executive life coaches (Tammy Perrie, Mary Ann Dove, Sigi Weiss, Megan Hooper, Ron Hyams, Veronica Roysten and Kim Rey). The coaches helped probe thought provoking discussions with our members into what their fears are, how they believe they are making a difference, and how to further utilize their skills to make societal and personal sustainable change.
Our members were encouraged to see the importance of reflection for not only personal growth, but to ensure better establishment of relationships with others in the future. Without such reflection, we cannot expect to make change in our societies.
On the HCD side of things, we were incredibly lucky to have been given a 2-hour crash course into Design Thinking by Dr Keneilwe Munyai and her fellow associates. Dr Munyai has a doctorate in design thinking and runs multiple design thinking programmes in SA and in Africa and is the programme manager at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking at the University of Cape Town. The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking (d-School) create an environment in which they nurture the design-led mindset by leveraging on diversity to unlock creative capacity.
According to the institute, Design Thinking is an approach to understanding and solving complex problems. It is rooted in people, in place, and in a process that unlocks the insights and creative collaboration needed to generate innovation.
The course involved our members having to creatively tackle problems by focusing extensively on the problem itself as opposed to the solution, whilst placed under time pressure. It was incredibly eye-opening, revealing the importance of designing to understand as opposed to designing for the sake of designing. It also solidified the crucial link we have as engineers in ensuring that solutions we come up with and implement not only solve the correct problem, but ensure that the community is involved with the ‘problem identification’ process in order to ensure that the solution remains sustainable in the long run.
All in all, it was an incredibly successful workshop, with many of our members calling for us to organize another event of this nature.
We truly feel that this event has helped us on our journey to achieve EWB-SA’s mission of setting out to reshape South Africa’s engineering sector as a place where people can live their passion, unfold their potential and work with compassion.
Written by Cailin Perrie - EWB-Maties Chairperson 2018