Student-facing webpage: dartmouth.edu/sdc
The Senior Design Challenge (offered as ENGS 15 during the 2017-2018 academic year) is a two-term course that serves as a senior capstone experience for Dartmouth students across all majors. Students in this project-based course practice human-centered design, developing not only the skills, but also the creative confidence to apply their liberal arts education to make a positive difference in the world beyond Dartmouth.
Students work in interdisciplinary teams on projects that are determined in partnership with organizations in the Upper Valley. The project topics are designed to give students flexibility in determining the specific problem on which to focus, while ensuring client responsiveness and substantial fieldwork opportunities.
The Senior Design Challenge spans two academic terms in order to give students the ability to delve into a project in great depth, and to produce a final product that is refined, tested, and appropriately meets the needs of the people for whom it is designed.
In the first (winter) term, students immerse themselves in their project topic, conducting primary and secondary research in order to identify specific needs of their end-users. They then synthesize their research findings to articulate a specific innovation opportunity, and brainstorm and prototype many different solutions to address their users’ needs. The first term culminates in a public presentation of initial/rough prototypes of the students’ concepts.
The second (spring) term is devoted to iterative product development and testing. Students are expected to create and test several rounds of prototypes, refining their designs before presenting their final products to their class, client, and general public.