The Urban Livability Workshop will be comprised of up to 100 students organized as approximately 20 interdisciplinary teams. The Urban Livability Workshop teams will be coordinated by a team of faculty members with complementary expertise in (a) innovation methods to guide the semester process and (b) expertise in urban planning and sustainability, architecture, business development and energy systems.
Urban livability encompasses a broad area of opportunity for exploring some of the most challenging problems of our times, but which offer rich possibilities for having a profound impact on people’s lives. This IPRO theme can be very rewarding for students passionate about applying their energy and creativity to improve the lives of others and making the world a better place while at Illinois Tech. In collaboration with local, national and international organizations, IPRO teams apply their expertise and passion for applying appropriate technology and creative strategies to meet vital social needs.
At the urban level, cities function because of (or in spite of) their infrastructure and systems, which can be loosely defined as any collection of independent parts that work together to make cities work better (or not). Examples of such systems include those that provide energy, communications, education, healthcare, water supply, solid waste management, recreation, and transportation. The very notion of city is undergoing transformation as new information inhabits and organizes the city and as humans occupy, navigate, and experience it through new protocols. Coupled with evolving green strategies and technologies, this demands that designers and strategists negotiate between increasingly different realities. We must consider the hybrid challenges that will be presented to the practitioner of the near future and for users, individually and collectively, as they adapt.
Teams organized within the Urban Livability Workshop examine the challenges we face in Chicago, now and in the near future, such as increased density, less dependence on non-renewable resources, aging infrastructure and technology, crisis prevention and management, mobility, usable social space, and more (which are also shared by other major metropolises). The innovation teams that are formed through this examination of urban realities will propose creative solutions to those challenges and prototype them. In addition to increasing awareness and understanding of urban problems, students in this IPRO section will learn and develop skills related to team dynamics, project management, economic analysis — in the context of applying discipline-specific fundamental knowledge and user-centered design and open-ended problem solving methods.
Students in the Urban Livability Workshop will be guided through the process of research, articulating a problem statement, developing viable concepts that address urban needs, and iterative prototyping to validate concepts and define their value. Urban Livability topics may also surface through other venues at Illinois Tech, including the Armour College of Engineering themes (health, energy, water, security), Institute of Design workshops, other IPRO team projects, other IIT colleges, etc.
General Overview of the IPRO Workshop Format
The IPRO workshop format gives students the opportunity to choose a broad, overarching theme but leave their options open regarding a specific team topic under the theme. The IPRO workshop sections replace the IPRO 397-xxx and IPRO 497-xxx course sections that have been offered for some time.
Individual topic offerings within a workshop include those conceived by (a) faculty members based on their research or contemporary marketplace challenges and opportunities, as well as (b) IPRO teams within the workshop that are motivated to pursue challenges and opportunities based on their own research insights, interdisciplinary interests and passion. In addition, each workshop offers students a choice between (a) a project experience that emphasizes hands-on prototyping, programming, etc. vs (b) a project experience that emphasizes analysis and planning, although all experiences will have elements of both.
While each workshop has a distinctive, overarching theme, pursuit of challenges and opportunities, and the development of concepts and solutions that have value, requires the application of a toolbox of enabling technologies, techniques and ways of thinking and decision making in various ways and at various levels. This challenges students to apply the body of knowledge associated with their disciplines that may include the following:
Innovation is often characterized as a great idea executed well and thus capitalizing on the fun, excitement, challenge and potential of community engagement and social innovation — via the melding of user-centered design thinking based on insights, brainstorming and prototyping (the great idea) with the rigorous application of engineering and other transformative design methods (executed well) — creates a compelling experience for everyone involved.