skip to Main Content
design lab michael meyer navy thebridge

Design Lab Faculty Reflects on Inspiring the First Design-Thinking Workshop on a Warship

Design Lab Faculty Reflects on Inspiring the First Design-Thinking Workshop on a Warship

Design Lab Faculty Reflects on Inspiring the First Design-Thinking Workshop on a Warship

By Michael Meyer

A few months ago, Naval Air Force Cmdr. Jeremy Vellon participated in a design-thinking workshop I led with Joshua Welle, a technology entrepreneur, public policy expert and Commander in the Navy Reserves, and Micah Murphy, a federal executive fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) at the U.S. Naval Institute’s “West 2017” conference.

A few months after my talk, I received notice from Cmdr. Vellon that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was going to hold the first-ever Navy “Bridge Talks” event, the first of a series of open ideation events, to kick off U.S. Pacific Fleet’s new innovation program called “The Bridge.” The Bridge is a program designed to give all sailors, regardless of rank or experience, an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas for improving the Navy in a non-judgmental environment.

Over the years, the U.S. Navy and other branches of the U.S. armed forces have had a number of issues arise from the need to maintain superiority among the ranks of its members. However, according to Rear Adm. Jay Bynum, there is now an existential urgency for the Navy to accelerate learning, innovate and “create a culture where we hear from the people closest to the problem.”  The rear admiral, who is considered to hold one of the highest-ranking positions in the Navy, acknowledges that all sailors are poised to help solve Navy problems. This is design-thinking.

I was thrilled that Cmdr. Vellon chose to kick off “The Bridge” ideation series with a session entitled, “Why Empathy? An Introduction to Design Thinking.” Congratulations to the sailors of USS Theodore Roosevelt for conducting this and to Cmdr. Vellon for leading them through it. It is tremendously satisfying to see design-thinking ideas spreading through the Navy, as helpful tools in service to our nation.

Focusing on the vital first step in the process, Cmdr. Vellon framed up how design thinking can integrate with the (at first thought incompatible) Navy Planning Process. The ensuing discussion drew inspiration from a diverse and wide array of sources from the Navy’s own revisions of the traditional enlisted rankings (involving job titles like Boatswain’s Mate) to the works of celebrated poet and civil-rights activist Maya Angelou.

According to recent Navy news release Cmdr. Vellon said, “I’m thrilled with the sailors’ reactions to the event. I hope sailors feel more comfortable engaging across ranks, across ships and across commands. I have a feeling the innovators aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt will continue to grow with this program.”

For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet/

By Michael Meyer

A few months ago, Naval Air Force Cmdr. Jeremy Vellon participated in a design-thinking workshop I led with Joshua Welle, a technology entrepreneur, public policy expert and Commander in the Navy Reserves, and Micah Murphy, a federal executive fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) at the U.S. Naval Institute’s “West 2017” conference.

A few months after my talk, I received notice from Cmdr. Vellon that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was going to hold the first-ever Navy “Bridge Talks” event, the first of a series of open ideation events, to kick off U.S. Pacific Fleet’s new innovation program called “The Bridge.” The Bridge is a program designed to give all sailors, regardless of rank or experience, an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas for improving the Navy in a non-judgmental environment.

Over the years, the U.S. Navy and other branches of the U.S. armed forces have had a number of issues arise from the need to maintain superiority among the ranks of its members. However, according to Rear Adm. Jay Bynum, there is now an existential urgency for the Navy to accelerate learning, innovate and “create a culture where we hear from the people closest to the problem.”  The rear admiral, who is considered to hold one of the highest-ranking positions in the Navy, acknowledges that all sailors are poised to help solve Navy problems. This is design-thinking.

I was thrilled that Cmdr. Vellon chose to kick off “The Bridge” ideation series with a session entitled, “Why Empathy? An Introduction to Design Thinking.” Congratulations to the sailors of USS Theodore Roosevelt for conducting this and to Cmdr. Vellon for leading them through it. It is tremendously satisfying to see design-thinking ideas spreading through the Navy, as helpful tools in service to our nation.

Focusing on the vital first step in the process, Cmdr. Vellon framed up how design thinking can integrate with the (at first thought incompatible) Navy Planning Process. The ensuing discussion drew inspiration from a diverse and wide array of sources from the Navy’s own revisions of the traditional enlisted rankings (involving job titles like Boatswain’s Mate) to the works of celebrated poet and civil-rights activist Maya Angelou.

According to recent Navy news release Cmdr. Vellon said, “I’m thrilled with the sailors’ reactions to the event. I hope sailors feel more comfortable engaging across ranks, across ships and across commands. I have a feeling the innovators aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt will continue to grow with this program.”

For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet/

By Michael Meyer

A few months ago, Naval Air Force Cmdr. Jeremy Vellon participated in a design-thinking workshop I led with Joshua Welle, a technology entrepreneur, public policy expert and Commander in the Navy Reserves, and Micah Murphy, a federal executive fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) at the U.S. Naval Institute’s “West 2017” conference.

A few months after my talk, I received notice from Cmdr. Vellon that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was going to hold the first-ever Navy “Bridge Talks” event, the first of a series of open ideation events, to kick off U.S. Pacific Fleet’s new innovation program called “The Bridge.” The Bridge is a program designed to give all sailors, regardless of rank or experience, an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas for improving the Navy in a non-judgmental environment.

Over the years, the U.S. Navy and other branches of the U.S. armed forces have had a number of issues arise from the need to maintain superiority among the ranks of its members. However, according to Rear Adm. Jay Bynum, there is now an existential urgency for the Navy to accelerate learning, innovate and “create a culture where we hear from the people closest to the problem.”  The rear admiral, who is considered to hold one of the highest-ranking positions in the Navy, acknowledges that all sailors are poised to help solve Navy problems. This is design-thinking.

I was thrilled that Cmdr. Vellon chose to kick off “The Bridge” ideation series with a session entitled, “Why Empathy? An Introduction to Design Thinking.” Congratulations to the sailors of USS Theodore Roosevelt for conducting this and to Cmdr. Vellon for leading them through it. It is tremendously satisfying to see design-thinking ideas spreading through the Navy, as helpful tools in service to our nation.

Focusing on the vital first step in the process, Cmdr. Vellon framed up how design thinking can integrate with the (at first thought incompatible) Navy Planning Process. The ensuing discussion drew inspiration from a diverse and wide array of sources from the Navy’s own revisions of the traditional enlisted rankings (involving job titles like Boatswain’s Mate) to the works of celebrated poet and civil-rights activist Maya Angelou.

According to recent Navy news release Cmdr. Vellon said, “I’m thrilled with the sailors’ reactions to the event. I hope sailors feel more comfortable engaging across ranks, across ships and across commands. I have a feeling the innovators aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt will continue to grow with this program.”

For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet/

Read Next

J. Tanner Cusick

J. Tanner Cusick joins the Design Lab as a Designer-in-Residence

When J. Tanner Cusick took a class called Social Architectures, he never expected that the trajectory of his career would change forever. While pursuing his MFA at UC San Diego, Cusick explains that it was in this class that he and his classmates designed “interventions” around campus. "Basically, we would change the environment and see how it influenced human behavior,” says Cusick. “I did a piece under Geisel that challenged people to use the space differently by creating a game of human Candy Land. I colored all the blocks beneath the library, and everyone came in costumes.” He reflects that what he didn’t realize at the time was that they were really practicing experience design.

It was the combination of this event and Cusick’s experience as a teaching assistant (TA) that taught him what User Experience (UX) was. “While I was a TA, I taught a digital art class and students were assigned The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. I'd never read the book before and I was amazed by it," said Cusick. It was the ideas in the book that influenced Cusick to shift the context of his work. “I ended up teaching myself about the discipline and doing a lot of UX design and content design. And that's what I have been doing since then."

The UC San Diego Design Lab

This is an exciting time for the field of design. The technologies that the research communities have worked on for the past 25 years have leapt off the pages of academic journals and into the daily lives of billions. What used to be our imagination is now our reality. These have enabled an extremely wide range of innovation in multiple arenas: healthcare and medicine, business, social interaction, entertainment.

But technology only enables: a practical application requires more than the underlying technology. If we build things for people, then knowledge of both people and technology is required. If we are to make them pleasurable, then the creativity and craft skills of artists and traditionally trained industrial and graphic designers are required. If they are to be understandable, then social scientists are required, including experts in writing and exposition. If they are to thrive in the world of business, then schools of management are required. Design aspires to combine these very different vertical threads of knowledge. Design is an all encompassing field that integrates together business and engineering, the social sciences and the arts.

Design-A-Thon: Mindshifts on Megafires

During fire season, it has become the norm to see front-page images of apocalyptic wildfires. A century of suppressing wildfires has created a dangerous accumulation of flammable vegetation on landscapes, contributing to megafires that risk human life and property and destroy ecosystems.

The Design-A-Thon brings together UC San Diego students from all disciplines and experience levels in a pitch-style competition to apply the Design Thinking process to proactive solutions to end destructive wildfires. All participants will be invited to present their submissions on April 20 after the Design@Large panel on Climate Risk Reduction and Technology.

Key dates and events:
-April 7 @ 4 PM - Design Challenge unveiled at kickoff
-April 15 - Registration & design-thinking workshop, lightning talks, and mentor sessions
-April 16 @ 11:59 PM - Submissions due
-April 20 @ 5 PM - Project showcase at Design@Large
UC San Diego Receives Community-Engaged Research Grant

UC San Diego Receives Community-Engaged Research Grant

Design Lab Member Lilly Irani has been awarded the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Community-Engaged Research Grant. This funding will assist the United Taxi Workers San Diego team in their community-engaged research on community-accountable, employee-driven technology entrepreneurship in San Diego.

“We’re excited to support community engagement in the research process through this grant portfolio. These six projects aim to build equitable, collaborative, solution-driven initiatives between communities and researchers with the potential to advance inclusive prosperity through entrepreneurship.” — Chhaya Kolavalli, Senior Program Officer, Knowledge Creation & Research, Entrepreneurship

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes, and breakdown systemic barriers so that all people–regardless of race, gender, or geography–have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity. For more information, visitwww.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.
Uc San Diego Design Lab Viasat

Viasat Invests in UC San Diego’s Design Lab

Viasat gift helps researchers provide guidance to engineering organizations on ways to implement a ‘design…

Design-A-Thon: Mindshifts on Megafires

During fire season, it has become the norm to see front-page images of apocalyptic wildfires. A century of suppressing wildfires has created a dangerous accumulation of flammable vegetation on landscapes, contributing to megafires that risk human life and property and destroy ecosystems.

The Design-A-Thon brings together UC San Diego students from all disciplines and experience levels in a pitch-style competition to apply the Design Thinking process to proactive solutions to end destructive wildfires. All participants will be invited to present their submissions on April 20 after the Design@Large panel on Climate Risk Reduction and Technology.

Key dates and events:
-April 7 @ 4 PM - Design Challenge unveiled at kickoff
-April 15 - Registration & design-thinking workshop, lightning talks, and mentor sessions
-April 16 @ 11:59 PM - Submissions due
-April 20 @ 5 PM - Project showcase at Design@Large
Back To Top