DegreeMaster of Engineering Management '21
If anyone wants to do anything outside of their major, I think Bass Connections is a great place to find a project of their interest. I found mine in design thinking. I really liked how Bass Connections gives you so many options. It is not just limited to your coursework, and it exposes you to faculty and students outside of your discipline.
My Bass Connections project was called Open Design at Duke and Beyond. We had three teams working on three mini-projects. I was on the Design+ team, working to establish a design thinking summer program for Duke students. The other two teams (Student team and Faculty team) talked to students and faculty to see how they can better their experience at Duke. In our Design+ project, we started out by interviewing students and people in the industry who knew more about design thinking and open design, or who used the concept of open design in their organization, such as Red Hat and IBM.
We were talking to these industry leaders to understand what tools they use, how they use design thinking concepts in their daily life, and how we could incorporate that in the summer program for Duke students. We were also seeing what things the Duke students required and what incentives we could give them. We spoke to students who participated in Code+, Data+ and Story+, and we were trying to see what they liked and disliked about the program. This was a year-long project. We had a good turnout, and about 3-4 teams of 3-4 students each were selected.
One of my favorite things about Bass Connections is that I got to talk to a lot of industry leaders, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if it was not for this project.
Within my team, I got to work with a diverse group of people. I’m in a master's program, but I got to work with undergraduates. When I initially came to Duke, I had very little knowledge about the culture here. The undergraduates exposed me to new work locations and lingo that I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced in my program.
When COVID hit, we were in our final stage of rolling out the program. We all were going to conduct outreach and raise awareness about Design+ near the Bryan Center Plaza. However, we could no longer do that, which was disappointing for us. We had to cancel that event and pivot our attention. Now how could we make students of aware of this? What could we do?
For advertising, we started with Instagram. Our team also advertised Design+ through our presentation at the Bass Connections Fair. For the posters, it was really interesting because we had the opportunity to create a multilayered virtual poster instead of being limited to the size of a trifold poster. It was really fun making that.
One of my favorite things about Bass Connections is that I got to talk to a lot of industry leaders, which I wouldn’t have been able to do if it was not for this project. I also liked the way the teams were formed and led because it felt like a family, especially after working together for a year. That feeling was really nice. We would have weekly meetings and even in our class, we were using design thinking principles to make the program. According to Google, you should have a psychologically safe environment for your team to be successful. Everyone should be eager to express what they want. They were trying to have that in our classes as well and this created a really positive and low stress environment