What was once the headquarters for the Information Technology Services group on the University of Hawaii, Manoa campus, Building 37 is soon to become the iLab. Inspired by Stanford University's D.School, the iLab will be a hub for innovation and design thinking on campus. Back in July 2015, this video was produced to provide a virtual tour of what the iLab would look like. The iLab is still under construction so what you see here will change over the next few weeks. I was fortunate to get a quick tour of the facility this past week. When completed, there are plans to hold classes, build a maker space equipped with 3D printers and provide a space for interdisciplinary innovation. The intent is to also include commercial business collaborations to help solve real world problems. In conjunction with the iLab, a design thinking course is going through curriculum approval for the UH Manoa campus. Design thinking isn't something new to Hawaii. Back in 2011, local R&D company Oceanit spearheaded the adoption of design thinking concepts in Hawaii's Department of Education. This spread from the DOE to government departments, UH departments, commercial businesses and even the non-profit sector. This however is the first time an actual credited course in design thinking will be offered at UH. A tentative date of January 20, 2016 is the target for the grand opening of the iLab. The closer we get to the date, the more I am hearing people talk about it. We've scheduled an upcoming interview with the course developer and a professor from the College of Engineering to talk about the iLab and how it will be used. Tune into Bytemarks Cafe on Hawaii Public Radio on Dec 23rd to catch that conversation.
At the conclusion of this past week's Stanford Univ. Design Thinking Bootcamp at the Sheraton Waikiki, the energy and excitement was palpable. People felt they not only had a tool they would take back to their organizations but there was a groundswell of support that they could tap. The Design Thinking initiative in Hawaii started in September 2010 when Oceanit brought Larry Shubert from Zip Innovations here for a one day workshop. Larry was formerly a principal with IDEO and leveraged the concepts that came out of there and the Stanford d.school. After all, they are related through David Kelley who is the founder of IDEO and head of the d.school. The September workshop was energizing and it would have been disappointing had that initial momentum been lost over time. In parallel but on a somewhat different track the University of Hawaii created the Innovation Council and held a Symposium on Innovation in January 2011. At the conclusion of the Symposium the Council submitted their recommendations on innovation. They included:
- Identify Research as an Industry in Hawaii
- Establish HiTEx (Hawaii Innovation Technology Exchange)
- Identify Key Areas for Commercialization Opportunities
- Integrate Entrepreneurship into the Curriculum
This past Monday, I had a chance to help facilitate a Design Thinking workshop as part of the Career and Technical Education, Career Pathway Student Performance Based Assessment Competitions. Ours was a session put on for the attending high school teachers. Design thinking was born out of IDEO, the award winning design firm in Palo Alto. CA. President/CEO Tim Brown articulated the process of design thinking at a TED conference in 2009 that caught on and continues to spread. Also integrally linked to this process is Stanford University's d.School and something founder David Kelly calls "radical collaboration." The d.School process is outlined in the latest issue of Stanford Magazine and available online. The design thinking workshop at the CTE event was modestly smaller in scale and condensed in a 2 hour window. Nevertheless it gave the teachers a taste of what the design thinking process entails. On site to administer the workshop were members of Hawaii's tech advocacy community including Oceanit, Hawaii Technology Development Venture, Hawaii Science and Technology Institute, ISISHawaii and the Inovi Group. The two hour session was a rapid sequence of events to design a new wallet. It started with team formation, interviews about personal wallet preferences, wallet designs, feedback and collaboration and finally prototyping. Everyone proceeded to tap their inner child using construction paper, felt, scissors, tape, velcro and even a little bling to complete the visualization process. Given the short timeframe, the teachers came up with some creative wallet designs. Keith Matsumoto from HTDV closed out the session by explaining how this design thinking process can help to develop Hawaii's workforce of the future. He said, "today's kids coming out of school can't think. This process of design thinking can help to change that." Matsumoto pointed to the dual-use companies, those companies working on projects funded by the the Dept. of Defense who also look to commercializing those products. Students who get a foundational training in the design thinking process can be valuable assets to companies looking to commercialize product for the market, whether it's medical, energy, ocean or tourism related. Along with the University of Hawaii's Innovation Council backing this effort, this is necessary workforce development for the 21st century.