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Design Lab & UCSD Spaces strive for Educational Equity Through Design

Design Lab & UCSD Spaces strive for Educational Equity Through Design

Design Lab & UCSD Spaces strive for Educational Equity Through Design

Who better to learn about good design than the people who will most benefit from it?

That was the driving idea behind the UC San Diego Design Lab’s decision to participate in the 15th annual Summer Summit, a summer residential program coordinated by SPACES (the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service).

Students in the program come from first generation low-income, immigrant and refugee families and represent diverse populations such as young women, Native Americans, LGBT, and students with disabilities.  The students — 72 of whom saw presentations by Design Lab researchers — also represent various San Diego schools, such as Gompers Preparatory Academy and Morse High School.

“There is a big push to make San Diego a design city,” noted Joseph Ruanto-Ramirez,  the Access Programs Advisor of SPACES.  “These students are the populations that researchers are going to be interacting with.  Some students may have never heard of design or cognitive science as a major so I wanted to expose them [to] various skills and programs they can probably play around with in the future.”

The Design Lab’s Colleen Emmenegger, for example, presented the work she and a team led by UC San Diego Professor Jim Hollan are doing on autonomous vehicles.  Emmenegger described her group’s data collection techniques before discussing how they were going to further research by using a Wizard-Of-Oz research approach (where a human performs a task that appears to be controlled by a computer) to learn how pedestrians, human drivers, and bicyclists respond to driverless cars.

Vineet Pandey, also of the Design Lab, presented on Gut Instinct, a new online learning platform that enables people to simultaneously ask and answer questions and learn about the gut microbiome.  “I thought my project was a good fit,” he said, “because coming from a computer science background, I could tell them that online education is changing and by the time they go to college or go to graduate school, they might be taking a lot of classes online.  Gut Instinct and similar tools are supposed to inspire them and tell them more about health and the microbiome to spark some curiosity in them, so that they could follow up on it and can read more into it.”

“If they’re excited about the kind of work that we’re doing, then they might be excited enough to put the effort into school and looking for financial support and getting into college,” said Emmenegger.”  I think it’s more inspirational than actually teaching design.  It’s about getting them excited so that they’re actually willing to put the effort into going further in their education.”

Added Ruanto-Ramirez: “These are actual students from those communities that might go into design and know what the community has gone through, what they’ve struggled with, and what can benefit them, so there is an actual voice in the community and framework for their individual community to survive as the city moves forward.”

Who better to learn about good design than the people who will most benefit from it?

That was the driving idea behind the UC San Diego Design Lab’s decision to participate in the 15th annual Summer Summit, a summer residential program coordinated by SPACES (the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service).

Students in the program come from first generation low-income, immigrant and refugee families and represent diverse populations such as young women, Native Americans, LGBT, and students with disabilities.  The students — 72 of whom saw presentations by Design Lab researchers — also represent various San Diego schools, such as Gompers Preparatory Academy and Morse High School.

“There is a big push to make San Diego a design city,” noted Joseph Ruanto-Ramirez,  the Access Programs Advisor of SPACES.  “These students are the populations that researchers are going to be interacting with.  Some students may have never heard of design or cognitive science as a major so I wanted to expose them [to] various skills and programs they can probably play around with in the future.”

The Design Lab’s Colleen Emmenegger, for example, presented the work she and a team led by UC San Diego Professor Jim Hollan are doing on autonomous vehicles.  Emmenegger described her group’s data collection techniques before discussing how they were going to further research by using a Wizard-Of-Oz research approach (where a human performs a task that appears to be controlled by a computer) to learn how pedestrians, human drivers, and bicyclists respond to driverless cars.

Vineet Pandey, also of the Design Lab, presented on Gut Instinct, a new online learning platform that enables people to simultaneously ask and answer questions and learn about the gut microbiome.  “I thought my project was a good fit,” he said, “because coming from a computer science background, I could tell them that online education is changing and by the time they go to college or go to graduate school, they might be taking a lot of classes online.  Gut Instinct and similar tools are supposed to inspire them and tell them more about health and the microbiome to spark some curiosity in them, so that they could follow up on it and can read more into it.”

“If they’re excited about the kind of work that we’re doing, then they might be excited enough to put the effort into school and looking for financial support and getting into college,” said Emmenegger.”  I think it’s more inspirational than actually teaching design.  It’s about getting them excited so that they’re actually willing to put the effort into going further in their education.”

Added Ruanto-Ramirez: “These are actual students from those communities that might go into design and know what the community has gone through, what they’ve struggled with, and what can benefit them, so there is an actual voice in the community and framework for their individual community to survive as the city moves forward.”

Who better to learn about good design than the people who will most benefit from it?

That was the driving idea behind the UC San Diego Design Lab’s decision to participate in the 15th annual Summer Summit, a summer residential program coordinated by SPACES (the Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service).

Students in the program come from first generation low-income, immigrant and refugee families and represent diverse populations such as young women, Native Americans, LGBT, and students with disabilities.  The students — 72 of whom saw presentations by Design Lab researchers — also represent various San Diego schools, such as Gompers Preparatory Academy and Morse High School.

“There is a big push to make San Diego a design city,” noted Joseph Ruanto-Ramirez,  the Access Programs Advisor of SPACES.  “These students are the populations that researchers are going to be interacting with.  Some students may have never heard of design or cognitive science as a major so I wanted to expose them [to] various skills and programs they can probably play around with in the future.”

The Design Lab’s Colleen Emmenegger, for example, presented the work she and a team led by UC San Diego Professor Jim Hollan are doing on autonomous vehicles.  Emmenegger described her group’s data collection techniques before discussing how they were going to further research by using a Wizard-Of-Oz research approach (where a human performs a task that appears to be controlled by a computer) to learn how pedestrians, human drivers, and bicyclists respond to driverless cars.

Vineet Pandey, also of the Design Lab, presented on Gut Instinct, a new online learning platform that enables people to simultaneously ask and answer questions and learn about the gut microbiome.  “I thought my project was a good fit,” he said, “because coming from a computer science background, I could tell them that online education is changing and by the time they go to college or go to graduate school, they might be taking a lot of classes online.  Gut Instinct and similar tools are supposed to inspire them and tell them more about health and the microbiome to spark some curiosity in them, so that they could follow up on it and can read more into it.”

“If they’re excited about the kind of work that we’re doing, then they might be excited enough to put the effort into school and looking for financial support and getting into college,” said Emmenegger.”  I think it’s more inspirational than actually teaching design.  It’s about getting them excited so that they’re actually willing to put the effort into going further in their education.”

Added Ruanto-Ramirez: “These are actual students from those communities that might go into design and know what the community has gone through, what they’ve struggled with, and what can benefit them, so there is an actual voice in the community and framework for their individual community to survive as the city moves forward.”

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The Idea Lab: A Collaboration Preparing Students For The Future

The Idea Lab: A Collaboration Preparing Students for the Future

As humans, we tend to compartmentalize ourselves as being either logical or creative thinkers. Rarely do we realize that everything we contemplate and create is better when we are both. This unification of both solutions-oriented entrepreneurship and nonlinear design thinking is the foundation of a new UC San Diego student program called the Idea Lab.

The program is a part of UC San Diego’s commitment to being an innovation catalyst and to cultivating future leaders, according to Michèle Morris, Associate Director of The Design Lab. “The Idea Lab program focuses on preparing our students to step into the 21st-century job market with the mindset and skills needed to address today’s challenges with solutions that are not necessarily directed and linear,” she explains. “Being able to navigate ambiguity, engage strategically and collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, and tactically operate in an inclusive, wholistic manner is no longer simply important, it is essential.”

The Idea Lab pilot program was launched in Fall 2020 and is itself a collaboration between two unique centers within UC San Diego’s innovation ecosystem: Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC)/The Basement—a student startup incubator that provides entrepreneurial and leadership programs; and The Design Lab—an interdisciplinary research and education community that prioritizes how humans are impacted by complex systems and technologies.

How They Got There: Janet Johnson

Graduate student Janet Johnson is currently working towards her doctorate degree in Computer Science, while also conducting HCI research in the UCSD Design Lab, primarily focusing on XR (extended reality).

So, what is Johnson’s research?  Johnson conducts HCI research, primarily focusing on XR. As Johnson describes it, “XR is an umbrella term for augmented reality, augmented virtuality, mixed reality, and virtual reality.” She says to think of it as a spectrum where one end is the real world alone, the other is complete virtual reality, and everything in between is varying mixes of the two. Johnson’s research primarily focuses on this mixed middle ground. “The majority of my research focuses on how we can use mixed reality or extended reality to help a novice…get help from an expert.” She then poses the example of both surgery and CPR. Johnson’s research explores ways for an expert to provide instructions to the novice as if though they were in the same room. Her goal is to help bridge the distance between novices and experts, both physically and skill wise, while also decreasing the amount of time a person receives aid. “By the time a medical personnel arrives at the scene, it’s already been 7 to 10 minutes, so each minute counts for the person’s life,” she explains. “You don’t have time in that 10 minutes to train the people around to be able to do CPR or any other sort of resuscitation, same with surgery.” 

As Johnson continues to conduct her research in this field, she’s excited for what the future holds for this technology and the ways she can contribute to it.  

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