NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19, all in-person daytime programs have been cancelled. We will resume our on-campus Pre-College daytime programs in summer of 2021.

View our 2020 Pre-College Online Summer Programs

What Is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is a method that designers, engineers, inventors, and makers use to approach challenges with a sense of empathy, viewing a problem through the eyes of someone actually confronting it. Learning how to become a design thinker is an important skill that strengthens the creativity, teamwork and collaboration, and innovation necessary to correctly identify and solve problems big and small.

The Design Thinking summer program is a five-day intensive workshop geared toward aspiring maker-designers who want to learn about the design thinking process and practice using it to generate creative solutions to problems they identify in their communities. The workshop will cover:

  • Research of users and observations
  • Research analysis and concept synthesis 
  • Prototyping
  • Execution of the design

The workshop will be co-led by Bo Rodda, adjunct professor at Illinois Tech and SAIC, and Daniel Chichester, adjunct professor at Illinois Tech. The team brings a blend of art and design thinking grounded in problem framing, prototyping, design research and strategy. Participation in the workshop involves lectures, fieldwork, brainstorming sessions, and prototyping. This will be an intense, experience-rich week filled with both theoretical and hands on execution.

What Can I Expect to Learn?

The curriculum of the Design Thinking camp spans five days and covers five activities:

1. Problem definition

  • How design thinking can improve design effectiveness 
  • How to properly frame design problems 
  • Planning for design projects 

2. Generating insights through user-centered research 

  • Understand how to transfer problem definition into a research strategy 
  • How to conduct direct field observation 
  • How to generate insights from primary observation 

3. Identifying opportunity areas 

  • How to transform insights into new products, services, and business models 
  • How to define new opportunity spaces 
  • How to run effective idea generation sessions 
  • How to prioritize ideas and concepts 

4. Rapid prototyping (model making) and concept evaluation 

  • How to integrate rapid prototyping into the innovation process 
  • How to make big ideas tangible 
  • Setting up a prototype theater 
  • How to test concepts with potential customers 

5. Design Execution 

  • Planning the execution
  • Sourcing materials
  • Hands on execution


Rising 10th–12th graders


Mies Campus


For more information, email