Engineering faculty and students participate in Design Thinking Week in Germany

July 25, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three representatives from the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Program’s (SEDTAPP) Engineering Design graduate program recently took their design expertise abroad for Design Thinking Week.

Hosted by the School of Design Thinking at Hasso-Plattner-Institut (HPI) in Potsdam, Germany, Design Thinking Week is a week-long program where HPI students and participants from other universities from around the world discuss the innovation method of design thinking and work together to solve a real-life challenge.

For the week, Sarah Ritter, assistant professor of engineering design; Rohan Prabhu, engineering design graduate student; and Andrea Sinkpon, engineering design graduate student, completely immersed themselves in the design world, spending time completing research, fieldwork, demonstrations, prototypes and presentations for the spring 2017 project “Financial Empowerment in an Era of Digital Transformation.” The project challenged designers to create a new service to offer new customers of ING-DiBa AG, a direct bank based in Frankfurt, Germany. As a direct bank, ING-DiBa AG doesn’t have branch locations. Instead, all services are offered remotely through online and telephone banking.

Design Thinking Week participants were divided into 10 teams for the design challenge. Attendees generated concepts for services that met the wants and needs of clients and potential clients, as well as the types of relationships customers search for from financial advice services. Additional insight was gathered through interactions with ING DiBa to better understand the strategies and concepts of direct banking.

After completing their research, the teams were asked to prototype ideas and test them with potential users, experts and financial stakeholders.

As a member of team one, Ritter worked to design a fun and interactive smartphone application focused on life events and the financial experiences associated with them. Prabhu and his team six colleagues created two prototypes – an interactive, multiple profile bank account website and a temporary shared bank account. Final prototyping and testing focused on “Crowd Money,” the temporary shared bank account concept. Sinkpon and team five designed a family planner service, helping families better organize and track their finances.

“It is easier to design a product, process or system when the implications in the end are real and not hypothetical. The design process becomes more personal when you know that people will potentially use it,” Sinkpon said. “Solving real life problems forces designers to be mindful and careful about their designs – it’s important because there is a possibility to make a difference in the world and make people’s lives better.” 

  • Sarah Ritter Design Thinking Week

    Sarah Ritter, assistant professor of engineering design, and her team one colleagues present their game of life application to Design Thinking Week attendees.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Andrea Sinkpon and her teammates present their project to a group

    Andrea Sinkpon and her teammates act out a scenario where they implement the use their family financial planner smartphone application.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Rohan Prabhu, engineering design graduate student, sketches out ideas and concepts for his team's financial service prototypes.

    Rohan Prabhu, engineering design graduate student, sketches out ideas and concepts for his team's financial service prototypes.

    IMAGE: Penn State
(1 of 3)

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 05, 2017