Design without thinking ?

Is that possible ? Why then do we need “Design Thinking” ?

As a design educator I have developed an allergic reaction to all forms of design buzzwords the most prominent of which is “Design Thinking” . Having taught Industrial Design at university level I appreciate the gross inadequacies of many such programs often taught by people who  have not noticed that the industrial age  passing by them. The industrial age was about following procedures. Programs and Robots do that really well. With the end of industrial age all formalized design methods go to pot. Because, the moment it is formalized every one will be able to do it producing the same uncreative results.

Real Innovation and is more in demand than ever before. It is much in demand and there is no shortage of snake oil sellers solutions for innovation.  I doubt if innovation will arise out of formalized thinking and processes devoid of experimentation, disagreements, risks and  failure.

On the other hand..

We need to talk about what we do, what are core believes are in a language that is commonly understand. To my surprise I found this. Design Thinking The document from the Learning Frontiers is worth a read. I was surprised how much we share the four core design principles. But I guess, the trick is in the way we put it together.


hacked A Go Pro Mounted Qaud Copter made entirely out of cannibalized parts: The motors, control system, communication system and home built Go Pro mount that keeps orientation steady.  This is Kenny Fernando’s personal take on re-cycling.

We concur.

Cross Over Point

Innovation Space has reached a cross over point. We did not expect to get here, but we have.


The kind of propositions that we are now getting from students this term (like launching satellites and building electric race cars)  exceed our abilities to support them. It is fairly clear that our commitment to non-teaching is paying off.

Self-Learners propel themselves

The skills sets that students are able to acquire without teacher involvement is now quite evident in Innovation Space. Also evident is the peer to peer propagation of knowledge and skills. Hands on projects seem to be helping in building confidence and abilities that taught programs cannot match. We have now arrived at a point were a few student teams have launched them selves into venture that is beyond their current abilities – with the clear intent of acquiring them as they go along : Just in Time learning.

Self Organizing

We are seeing that small student teams are able to organize themselves, promote that they do and even raise funds to peruse their goals. Many of them have stages and our limited budget for each project will probably only carry them through stage 1. But that does not seem to deter them.

Skills beyond us

In order to support the current generation of projects we are compelled to reach out to the University Industry and Parental networks. We need to develop a network model. Also the support requires for students is more akin to Phd research program where the student lead their own research project.

Student Led

We now have sufficient number of student led projects, to interest engage and educate through peer to peer the wider network of ASMS students. Fortunately for us, the more able, the more ambitions students are able to work in groups. The nature and quality of learning that arise out of their endeavors are beyond the current scope of schools.

From now on, Innovation Space will support only projects that our beyond our own experiences – because in them; there is great energy, enthusiasm and learning. Also it puts us on the edge – and that is where we are supposed to be.

Where does learning happen ?

“There’s your comfort zone. You know every fish in that pond. You belong. You know how to deal with problems. Nothing new under the sun. If you want to learn something new and grow, you’ll have to leave your comfort zone. This is where learning starts. That’s where interesting things happen. That’s where you don’t immediately have a response to everything.

Of course, there’s also the point where you’re just overwhelmed. That’s the panic zone. That’s where you’ll black out. That’s where all you can do is to try to keep your head outside the water hope somebody will save you.

The sweet spot is right before your panic zone. That’s where the challenges are where you’ll learn the most, grow the most, and change the most. Go there.”

From : 9 Things I Learned as a Software Engineer

Some serious math is needed..


It was interesting accompanying the school satellite team to the University of Adelaide to meet up with Dr Matthew Tetlow who had kindly agreed to give some advise. He is explaining here why it is so difficult for the satellite to know its altitude – because of the kinks in the earths magnetic field.  Some serious maths is needed to figure out the altitude.

The student satellite team runs entirely by its own steam. Having taught design process at University level for many years – I had decided not to teach it, because in Innovation Space we have made a commitment not to teach. Guess what ?  it works.

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School Built Satellite

Some students @ ASMS wanted to build a satellite this term. I was not sure how feasible that would be, but agreed to support it as we had announced our promise for supporting missions that are impossible in our belief that even in failure there will be great learning opportunities.

Luckily, Karen Palumbo an ASMS teacher  found a great initiative that will make such ambitious dreams a lot more possible. LaunchBox is an incredible Australian initiative that allowing school kids to build balloon launched satellites that enjoy a few minutes in the stratosphere.  We were fortunate to have its inspiring founder Flavia Tata Nardini visit us @ ASMS yesterday.


We are looking forward to putting something in orbit.