This new international-centered IPRO project will guide students through the user-centered design process, representing a four-phase framework: Project Definition, Research & Analysis, Concept Development, and Prototyping & Testing. The challenge for the team will be to tackle a specific need and opportunity within a rural community in Nicaragua. The teams will work with a stakeholder in Nicaragua and have a connection with local members of a community to learn about life and needs in the developing world. Students will explore various themes of sustainability, education, health, and other aspects of well-being. By the end of the semester, the team will develop working solutions for a specific problem within the community. Students will have the option to travel (at their own expense) during spring break to visit the community in Nicaragua and experience life in a rural community first hand.
The IPRO sub-teams organized for the semester will create an archive of information and experience that can inform future teams about how to identify, select and develop a continuous stream of extremely affordable product concepts over multiple years. This IPRO team therefore will create a legacy of service for the rural poor of Nicaragua and the developing world at-large through a sustaining IPRO project that future generations of Illinois Tech students can participate in.
Members of the team from various disciplines will also learn to use design methods, testing processes and economic and technical review processes to ensure that our solutions have the right cost structure and performance reliability and provide an appropriate solution. Members of the team will also develop their ability to learn and apply good project management practices to mobilize both team and external collaborator resources. Ethical issues arise often in working with and researching the needs and behaviors associated with people in developing countries, and dealing with these ethical issues is a part of participating in this IPRO project experience. There will be significant opportunities to identify and build relationships with external collaborators.