DFA Northwestern’s annual Summer Studio kicked off this week! This year’s studio is the largest one to date. 21 students are spending the next six weeks tackling 5 different social impact projects. And for the first time, students from Duke and MSU will be joining Northwestern students for the program.

From “How can we improve airport experiences for those with disabilities?” to “How can we combat adolescent depression?” teams will be working throughout Chicago to answer these questions and impact many social challenges. Participants will also learn and practice design process skills during workshops and visits at Greater Good Studio and IDEO, DFAlumni-run startups Luna Lights and SwipeSense, and DFA partners Medline, Shure, and Microsoft Civic Tech!

Byron Stewart of Dramatic Diversity leads a workshop with students to get in a creative and empathetic mindset.

Summer Studio began with learning improv techniques to use empathy as teams go out and speak with community members. Participants also worked through a 2-hour design sprint bootcamp building gifts for one another.

In addition, teams met their 10 fantastic coaches who will meet with them on a weekly basis as they tackle their projects. The coaches exemplify a range of diverse design experience and will be essential in giving feedback and guidance as DFAers develop their projects.

DFAers Anna O’Donnell (Northwestern) and Naomi Wang (MSU) craft low-fi gifts for one another.

Follow the summer studio journey and team progress on the DFA snapchat at @design4america. We are looking forward to seeing their final presentations at the start of Leadership Studio on August 3rd!

Coach Audrey Clarke, former Program Manager at Doblin with a vast design research background, works with a team to identify stakeholders as they begin immersing in user research.