‘’Design thinking for social innovation’’ – EWB UP host Human Centred Design Course
EWB UP hosted the annual Human Centred Design course on the 22nd of July at the University of Pretoria, Conference Hall 100. The members showed up in their number to attend the much anticipated course. Human Centred Design refers to a creative approach to problem solving which starts with the people you are designing the solution for and how to tailor the solution to their needs using empathy and engagement. EWB UP invited Deney van Rooyen (Pretoria TAB member) from Bigen Africa as a speaker for the event and she would be providing a view of the importance of the HCD type of thinking even within the industry space. Deney brought along a colleague, Vusi Baleni to share the stage and thoughts on HCD approach in industry.
The event kicked off with the chairperson of EWB UP, Ayanda giving a quick presentation on what Human Centred Design is, why it is important in the project work we do as EWB and how the approach has been used in previous EWB projects and other projects around the world which included examples where the HCD approach was used in corporate spaces or product development of some or the most famous brands like Kelloggs. Deney and Vusi presentation touched on how engineering, human needs, empathy, engagement and growth is involved in the HCD approach. They commented on how a user based design is frequently used in computer and software engineering while the HCD approach is strangely not a big theme in Infrastructure Design. One of the important points made by Vusi is to always ensure our solutions humanise the beneficiary community and how empathy is the key to that. They raised the issue of how the structural industry battles with the issue of the dislike of pedestrian bridges with users and how perhaps an in depth HCD approach may be the solution. The main theme across their presentation was to get the participants thinking of not only the importance of the HCD approach but also of how real life situations bring challenges for a HCD approach. When concluding the presentation Deney suggested the participants watch a TED Talk by Ernesto Sirolli titled Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! Both presentations stressed the importance to engaging with the communities that you want to help in order to get a solution that will be useful to the community and the role of empathy in the HCD approach.
Once the presentations were done the event moved on to the practical application of a HCD approach for problem solving where the members present were given a conceptual design problem where they had to come up with a solution and the solutions would be assessed for how well the hcd approach was applied. The problem given was that the participants had to take up the role of an NGO to come up with a solution to solve a sanitation problem for a community of about 300 people using the bucket toilet system. The solution needed to be sustainable, practical and affordable. The teams came up with innovative solutions and the judges Vusi and Deney gave great feedback on the solutions they came up with. It is safe to say the participants enjoyed the event and learned from it if the comments by participants are anything to go by.