Design at UCSD is a pre-professional student organization that aims to be the forefront of design thinking at UC San Diego and beyond. We strive to ensure that our students are industry ready and prepared to pursue meaningful careers in the design industry. Our organization hosts workshops, talks, and events revolving around the different aspects of design including but not limited to, product, UX, visual, service, and human-centered design.
Our Year in Review
2017–2018 was a successful year for our organization. In the span of an academic year, we were able to serve a large part of the UC San Diego community and engage over 800 students across a variety of disciplines in design thinking. We also kickstarted our membership program and currently have 100 official Design at UCSD members and counting.
Skill based workshops
Introduction to UI/UX Design and Figma
Many of the students in our community are interested in pursuing a field in UI/UX design, but we found that they did not know what the field exactly entails. In the fall, we wanted to delve into the field in greater detail and introduce some of the key differences between UI and UX to students. We then led an introductory Figma workshop to teach one of the tools used in the industry to our students.
Front-End Development Workshop
Many designers entering the digital space have some front-end coding experience. We wanted to ensure that our students are equipped with the necessary development skills and hosted a beginner level front-end development workshop. We covered the basics of HTML and CSS and walked students through the process of building a simple webpage to teach them the foundational skills to create a portfolio.
User Research Methods
Understanding people and gaining empathy for users is one of the key fundamentals of design. We introduced our students to a variety of user research methods to equip them with strategies and methodologies to gain meaningful insight into the people they are designing for.
Visual Design Workshops
Visual design is an important aspect of good design. Visual designers are responsible for creating more than an aesthetic appeal. Their work defines the visual language and emotions conveyed in a product or service which greatly impacts a person’s overall experience. We led many visual design workshops throughout the year.
In the winter we taught our students the basics of Adobe Illustrator, an important tool used by visual designers across industry. In the spring we led a workshop focused on the fundamentals of color and typography, two key aspects of visual design.
UX Writing + Content Strategy
Words play an integral role in complementing designs and creating an enjoyable product experience. We led our first content strategy workshop to learn the important aspects of crafting meaningful content that engages users. We then presented students with the opportunity to put their skills into practice and create content for specific business needs. Students practiced generating thoughtful notifications and error messages.
Career Prep and Development
Workday Meet the Designers
Early into winter quarter, students had the opportunity to meet recruiters and designers from Workday. During this networking event, many students were able to present their resumes, receive feedback, and practice their elevator pitches.
Resume and Portfolio Workshops
Winter typically marks the start of recruiting season. We hosted resume and portfolio workshops to prepare our students for the peak of recruiting season. We were able to provide students with tips and advice on best practices for key aspects of resumes and portfolios. Our board members also provided constructive critique to help students prepare.
We ended our series of career development workshops with a panel featuring members of our organization who have successfully landed internships and jobs in the design industry.
Flavors of Design
In the design industry, there are a variety of roles that cater to different interests and backgrounds. We wanted to expose students to the wide range of roles including user research, visual design, UX design and UX engineering. Four designers at Mitchell International joined us to share more about their specific design roles, and their journeys into the design industry.
Design in Business
During winter quarter, we collaborated with UC San Diego’s Women in Business and invited a group of designers in industry who shared the importance of design in the business world. Members walked away better informed about how design can applied to a variety of disciplines and fields.
During spring quarter, Ali Vassigh, VP of UX at Roku and UCSD alum, joined us for a talk about navigating a career in the design industry. His talk covered practical advice about finding the right career path and determining how design can generally be applied to our lives.
Large Scale Events
Following feedback we received from our members, we noticed that many students wanted to learn more about design beyond traditional digital product design. As a result, Design at UCSD created Design Frontiers, a series of day long design sprints and lightning talks, each focusing on an aspect of design beyond UI/UX and product design.
Design Frontiers: Education
For our first inaugural event, we focused on applying human-centered design to the field of education. Over 80 students gathered on the weekend to learn about how design thinking has impacted education. Students listened to a talk from Dr. Beth Simon of the UC San Diego Department of Education. Dr. Simon’s talk covered designing for engagement in an online educational environment through sharing her recent work developing a new learning management system. Students then heard from Dr. Lilly Irani who spoke about utilizing design patterns to facilitate community-based learning rather than learning through information transfer.
After lunch, students received a quick overview of the human-centered design process and had the opportunity to apply what they learned during a five hour design sprint. The design briefs focused on topics relating to the field of education, including designing for K-12 computer science programs and inclusive classroom environments. Read more about Design Frontiers: Education here.
Design Frontiers: Healthcare
After a successful inaugural Design Frontiers, we hosted our second Design Frontiers focused on applying design thinking to healthcare in the spring. We were excited to see many familiar faces from our first event in addition to new faces from engineering, public health and business. We collaborated with Illumina to present lightning talks that focused on conveying how design fits into the company. Representatives from Illumina also created a design brief challenging attendees to ideate and design an improved user flow for a medical device interface. The second brief offered attendees the opportunity to explore how design impacts medical hardware through reimagining and redesigning the pediatric MRI experience.
Attendees were enthusiastic to tackle current issues in a new problem space using their design skills. After the design sprint portion of the event, teams presented their solutions to a panel of Illumina judges who selected the top concepts from each design brief.
As we reflect on the past year, we are grateful for the support of our members and corporate affiliates. The work we’ve done would not be possible without our passionate design community and we look forward to continuing to grow as an organization next year!