Design Challenges


What is a Design Challenge?

A Design Challenge is a problem-based learning experience. From 2015-2020 Norton Gusky developed twenty-two design challenges for the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) of Pittsburgh and the Parkway West Career and Technology Center (PWCTC) consortium of schools.  All of the  EIC/ PWCTC challenges are based on real-world problems that relate to the EIC and its partners or PWCTC. The EIC/PWCTC Design Challenges bring together multiple groups of students from different schools who work as consultants for a client. The consulting teams must collaborate and produce a proposal for the problem identified in a Request for Proposal (RFP).  The EIC/PWCTC Design Challenges are NOT a competition; they’re a collaborative problem-solving experience that addresses a real world problem with a human focus. The Design Challenges use a Project-based Learning framework and tap into strategies from Human Centered Design. The consulting teams share their proposed solution with the client(s) and experts who provide feedback and evaluate the solution for possible implementation to solve the real world problem identified in the RFP.

What is the role of the client?

The client identifies the problem for the RFP. The client shares the problem with the consulting teams as part of an introductory meeting or entry event. The client addresses questions and issues raised by the consulting teams (who share their issues/questions with the Design Challenge Coordinator). The client responds to the final proposal based on the considerations identified in the RFP.

What should be the role of the teacher?

The teacher should really be a facilitator who lets the student consultants grapple with the Design Challenge. The challenge has ambiguities, but there are key issues outlined in the RFP. The teacher should make sure that the student consultants address the key issues. The teacher should also work with the group on presentation skills. The teacher can arrange for outside resources to help with the challenge, e.g. an architect. The teacher is the point of contact for all questions and issues with the Design Challenge Coordinator.

What should be the role of the student?

Students in the EIC Design Challenges become consultants working with a team to address the RFP. The students work with a team to research and develop a creative solution or strategy for the Design Challenge. The students begin the process by identifying essential questions. Then the students, depending on the school, work in class, after-school, or independently.

What should be the role of the experts?

The experts are professionals who address questions from the consulting teams and then provide the evaluative feedback to the student consulting teams at the Public Exhibition – the presentation by the student consulting team.