Innovations That Inspire

Design Thinking for Good: IBE + ID Innovation Hackathon

Recognition Year(s): 2024
School: Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, Purdue University
Location: United States

Students from Purdue’s Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) program partnered with those from Industrial Design (ID) to create solutions for helping people with physical disabilities achieve easier independent building access.

Call to Action

In its ongoing efforts to be one of the most innovative schools in the U.S., Purdue University creates business-research partnerships that address real-world needs while producing graduates who are job ready. In that spirit, students in the IBE program in the Daniels School of Business coordinated with students from ID in the College of Liberal Arts to host an innovation hackathon.

With corporate partner dormakaba, a global provider of access control and security solutions, students participated in a competition addressing aspects of disability access in the modern world. The goal was to provide students from different disciplines with an opportunity to foster new perspectives of thinking while working under the pressures of a time constraint. With engineers and product managers offering guidance, students were able to see how their curriculum was preparing them for work in their respective fields.

Innovation Description

Students were asked to design doors and entrances that would function in smarter and safer ways for people with disabilities, allowing unaided access to public spaces. Teams worked on design intents and solutions, learned innovative design methods to accelerate the development process, and used technology-based design tools to build visible and tangible objects.

Senior-level students from the ID program teamed with second-year students from IBE. Their process included hands-on empathy research, bodystorming (simulation in a physical environment), affinity mapping (physically organizing concepts), sketch-noting ideas, cardboard prototyping, and role-playing. Students presented their products 12 hours later in five-minute presentations that included videos. While the ID students brought the necessary design skills, the IBE students investigated cost effectiveness, competitors’ products, marketing, and other business-based issues.

The competition’s winning team developed an innovative solution with strong business value that took a compassionate approach to helping people with disabilities. The team clearly impressed dormakaba executives, including Justin Crotzer, senior vice president of global access hardware solutions and product development at dormakaba Americas, who said, “Their unhinged connection from the industry allows them to freely think and approach problems, which is truly powerful for us.”

Innovation Impact

Experiential learning is a key component for students at Purdue’s Daniels School of Business. Events like the hackathon allow them to interact with students from other academic disciplines to solve real-world problems, similar to what they will face in the workforce.

During the hackathon, corporate involvement from dormakaba presented the students with a situation they had to work together to address, accompanied by real-time guidance from practitioners in the field. The practitioners reinforced many of the principles being taught in classrooms and provided a direct link between learning and practice.

Through this experience, students are given the opportunity to interact with a company that could become a future employer. The sponsor, too, is able to identify and potentially recruit talent for their organization while gaining fresh, outside perspectives. Society also benefits, as the innovative solutions are applied to products that make life easier and more independent for people with disabilities.

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