Andrew Whitcomb

After receiving my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I began my professional career at the Milwaukee Art Museum. However, driven by a desire to understand what makes designers tick, I chose to pursue a Master’s degree at North Carolina State University, a program focused on design research and pedagogy. At NC State I had a chance to gain experience with design theory while practicing methods in interaction design, service design, and strategic design. My Master’s thesis proposed a system of digital and physical design tools to support university students engaged in public service projects.

Through the DESMA program, I am collaborating with the Swedish design consultancy Veryday to delve deeper into the potential for design methods to engage social and business issues. In particular I aim to open design in order to extend the creative, empathetic, and reflective skills of its practitioners to people not trained in its practice. Responding to a growing number of professional design consultancies that have published design toolkits meant to aid people in problem-solving or innovation, I am taking a critical look at current approaches for packaging design methods. My current work revolves around a co-design project that reaches out to “lead users” as partners in product innovation. Investigating the differences among non-designers and designers working side-by-side, I seek insight into how design methods can support collaborative exploration of future possibilities.

Always keeping an eye on the future, I constantly pursue opportunities to help others learn about design. I see my research as an opportunity to further the dialogue regarding how people learn design methods and apply them to situations in their everyday lives. As part of DESMA, I relish my position between academia and professional practice. In the long-term I plan to continue blurring lines among disciplines, institutions, and environments. Essential to the success of my professional work, I enjoy a variety of physical activities and exploring unknown territories both close to home and abroad.

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