The Global Innovation and Design (GID) Lab at the University of Washington Tacoma provides human centered design training and resources for campus and community. Using our custom design space and materials for iterative ideation, prototyping, and testing, we work collaboratively with teams across academia and industry to tackle and solve problems.
We undertake projects across all sectors, custom designing workshops around unique needs. For a free consultation and to let us know what you need, please click on the Innovate With Us button below.
The GID Lab spaces (MLG 203, MLG 204, and MLG 211) are open for booking for workshops, with or without our facilitation. Campus requests for use of the Lab must be made through 25Live and the button below. External parties may use only the button below:
During 2022-23, the Washington Student Achievement Council [WSAC] engaged the University of Washington Tacoma’s Global Innovation and Design (GID) Lab to execute four design sprints in rural communities across the state to understand the barriers high school students experienced, especially underrepresented minorities, in their journey to education beyond graduation. The initial focus on understanding barriers evolved to the design challenge: How might we connect high school students to resources to continue education after graduation?
Over the next ten months, WSAC employees participated side-by-side with students and their families, in the iterative empathy-need finding-ideation-prototyping-testing design thinking process in Quincy, Oakville, and Highline, which was then followed by a culminating sprint by WSAC employees in the GID Lab at UW Tacoma, to produce four final prototypes for execution.
Each design sprint opened with an ice breaker prompting participants to question their existing schemas and encouraging a shift from rule-bound responses to dynamic with table mates. Following the ice breaker, personas based on user research surveys and interviews were reviewed and discussed by each table. Participants recorded their impressions during the discussion on empathy maps to reveal pain and gain points. The results from this exercise informed the crafting of new ‘How might we’ statements addressing the pain points and barriers from the empathy maps that clustered around the following themes:
· Building trust and understanding with students and their families
· Including and supporting families
· Institution (School District & Post High School) support and resources
In this first of four design sprints for the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), the GID Lab team traveled to Quincy, WA on April 15, 2023. Quncy High School's brand-new buildings provided an impressive location for the workshop, with the Library venue filled with prompts for design thinking and creative exploration. Within this delightful setting, a group of ten participants (five high school students, three parents and two WSAC employees, worked through the entire design cycle to produce prototypes that would reduce barriers to college planning: school sponsored campus tours, individualized financial advising for families, not just students; and testimonials of college enrolled students on sustaining family ties beyond college, to name just a few.
High school students across Washington state face complex barriers to accessing resources to apply to college or other education programs after graduation. The Washington Student Achievement Council which connects students in need to financial resources, engaged the Global Innovation and Design Lab in a year-long project which included six months of user research and four design sprints in rural and urban areas. User research included student, educator, and WSAC employee surveys, and interviews with high school students across the state. The rich quantitative and qualitative data informed the creation of nine personas which were included in each sprint.
The sprints take participants (in Quincy, Oakville, Olympia and Tacoma) through the process of empathy, need finding, ideation, prototyping, testing and feedback. Global Innovation and Design Award students help collate materials for the workshops.
On April 5, 2023, the Global Innovation and Design Lab welcomed the Multicultural Child Family Hope Center to its brand-new space in Milgard Hall 203. The MCFHC team set the following design challenge for itself: How might we strategically communicate with our key stakeholders to improve our partnerships? The commitment and active engagement of the MCFHC team made for a vibrant and richly productive session. The ice breaker drew people into the beginner's mindset, with the playful energy moving effectively into high intensity and rapidly paced ideation and prototyping. A special feature was the presence of the Architecture Research Office photographers, capturing the true-to-purpose use of the space. Final presentations of prototypes of specific content products as well as a communication strategy left the MCFHC feeling they had purpose-filled and practical steps forward.
United Way of Pierce County brings together around 300 participants each year in its November From Poverty to Possibilities Summit, to learn about and solve through barriers to affordable housing. The Global Innovation and Design (GID) Lab, first engaged by UWPC in 2019 to facilitate the one-hour design thinking workshop at the Summit, embarks on its process at least four months prior to each Summit. Students in the Lab through the Global Innovation and Design Award Program, together with faculty supervisors, conduct user research in collaboration with UWPC, on and with Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) families. The Lab team moves the user research into personas and facilitates high level training for the UWPC team, utilizing the entire design thinking process. At each Summit, Dr. Divya McMillin facilitates the theme-specific design thinking workshop, with a team including around 40 students, faculty, and UWPC staff and community partners, supporting ideation and prototyping across tables. Remarkably, during the pandemic in 2020, the virtual session with 40 breakout Zoom rooms was just as successful, perhaps even more so, with people across the community appreciating the intimate space of the virtual room to discuss issues and brainstorm ideas. Design kits with prototyping materials were mailed to each participant. At the end of each Summit, the GID Lab produces a hefty final report. The Report details the full range of prototypes that UWPC takes into the community for iteration. Community sessions are frequently facilitated by the GID Lab as well, as detailed in separate reports.
Spring 2023 | Spring 2022 | Fall 2021 | Summer 2021
The mission of the Institute for Black Justice, to relentlessly pursue equity and justice for all, is closely aligned with the GID Lab's mission of inclusive innovation. The GID Lab has served as an inaugural partner of the IBJ, facilitating a series of design thinking workshops for its first Freedom Summer Symposium in 2021. It's very first challenge, “How might we reimagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 'I have a dream,'" brought together a design cohort of ten 18–35 year-olds to create pathways and programs for equitable leadership. The cohort was organized into three groups, each of which presented prototypes of a reimagined dream at the June 28-30 Freedom Summer Symposium. Final prototypes included a program to give Black youth greater access to political and policy spaces, a community garden to support food accessibility, and a safe space for community conversations.
In Fall 2021, the GID Lab provided an orientation to human centered design to support the group’s efforts in increasing voter turnout.
For the 2022 Freedom Summer Symposium, the GID Lab led 12 members of ACES through a design challenge to “Reimagine a blueprint for Black excellence.”
The GID Lab team is gearing up to support the IBJ's 2023 Freedom Summer Symposium design challenge: Given the example of Tulsa's Black Wall Street, how might we use our own skills and abilities to achieve economic prosperity for ourselves and our community? The GID Lab workshops will be held in MLG 203 on May 11, and will take the IBJ design cohort through the steps of need finding, ideation, and prototyping, and will provide training for user research and presentation at the June 14, 2023 symposium at the University of Puget Sound.
“How can our Dealerships better position themselves in the face of oncoming disruption in the Automotive Industry?” was just one of five design challenges undertaken by the Titus-Will core design team in the GID Lab. Through need finding, the core design team tackled challenges to the industry including rideshares and artificial intelligence. The question of the future of mobility was portentous with the advent of Covid-19 shutdowns just a month after the workshop.
March 4, 2022| Resources for newly arrived Afghan Refugees
Students in the TGID 320 Design and Innovation Studio class, taught by IIGE Visiting Lecturer and Artist in Residence Janeil Engelstad, worked on prototypes that will provide resources to recently arrived refugees from Afghanistan. The students designed a system for maps and a web platform to help refugees navigate American grocery stores and understand which American foods, especially fresh vegetables, can be substituted for ingredients not found in the United States.
The website and map will consist of colors, patterns, symbols, and fonts that culturally resonate with Afghanis. Organizations throughout the U.S. that outreach to Afghani refugees will be able to apply the system locally, plugging in local services and information. The student’s process has included research, innovating various prototypes, and interviewing various project stakeholders, including “Break Bread, Break Borders” (a Dallas based organization where refugees prepare and serve regional food and tell their migration stories to the public) and Pittsburgh based “Hello Neighbor Network” an organization working in post-refugee and immigrant resettlement. The students will present their completed prototypes to the project stakeholders at the end of winter quarter.
Founders and stakeholders of Zenith West revised their entire business plan and approach through a need finding and ideation session with the GID Lab team. Alongside founders and employees of Zenith West, the GID Lab team identified and co-designed avenues for Zenith West's growth in the Pierce County region. From a starting question of "How might we increase memberships?", the Zenith West executive team made a transformational shift to a purpose-aligned operational strategy that centered holistic child development.
With the break of the pandemic and nationwide shutdowns in March 2020, the GID Lab launched its INNOVATE TACOMA series to help area organizations redesign systems and processes to withstand the impact. One of its earliest clients was the Economic Development Board of Pierce County which needed a reexamination of its 2021-25 Work Program freshly constructed just before the pandemic. With the design challenges of “How might we elevate a more diverse workforce/talent pipeline to support businesses coming out of the pandemic?” and “How might we learn more about the communities we serve?”,the GID Lab team led a core executive team and then around 35 board members through the design cycle. As a result of the redesign, the Work Program was refreshed with a new membership and communication system that was more inclusive of all business, and with unique affordances specific to workplace needs under Covid-19.
September 18, 2021 | Resilient Pierce County in Salishan, Tacoma
In collaboration with United Way of Pierce County’s (UWPC) Resilient Pierce County Team, the GID Lab team facilitated two design thinking workshops with eight residents of the Salishan community. Beginning with the prototypes developed at the 2020 UWPC From Poverty to Possibilities Summit, participants split into two groups and iterated their own community solutions to address barriers to accessing health and human services such as affordable childcare, food accessibility, and mental/behavioral health resources for youth.
Although each team started with different barriers and needs, their final prototypes both led to the need for a safe community space that could be utilized to address a variety of needs. Just as barriers are often interwoven and connected, a community solution should, too, accommodate a vast number of resources and information!
As part of its INNOVATE TACOMA series, during Spring and Summer 2021, the GID Lab team led a six-phase design sprint with Chamber Board Members to address the following design challenge: “How might we make the South Sound the most equitable and inclusive place to do business in Washington State?”. Through multi-level user research, board members gained empathy on the member experience and moved through ideation and prototyping to create a new 2021-26 Strategic Vision through the lens of equity and inclusion. Final prototypes included an app for businesses with similar profiles to connect and access resources, and a BIPOC Business Cohort to strengthen emerging businesses.
The GID Lab team, including students, facilitated a mini design sprint with 25 Pacific Lutheran University Act Six Scholars. Themes for both years included Leadership, Unity, and Economic Justice. Students co-created pathways to leadership and economic independence using design thinking. Workshops were both in person and virtual, and spread across October and November each year.
"How might we increase the number of young people who aspire to civic engagement in the South Sound?" was the central question the GID Lab team used to engage over 25 students from the UW Tacoma Global Honors Program, Tacoma Community College, and Bates Technical College. The question guided two workshops of ideation and prototyping, with presentations by students as well as the GID Lab team to the South Sound Together board. An initial ideation and affinity mapping workshop with core executives of South Sound Together helped produce the design challenge and goals of the two-quarter long project. A civic engagement bus and engagement opportunities for course credit were some of the practical prototypes that emerged. Recognition that young people are already civically engaged also emerged as an important take-away. Participants recommended course credit and collaboration between campus and community, to showcase students’ engagement.
“How might the City of Tacoma create the conditions for equity and inclusion for its employees of color?” provided the guiding prompt for the GID Lab’s work with the City of Tacoma in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. As part of the GID Lab's INNOVATE TACOMA series, these workshops with both a core design team, and then including members across departments, resulted in prototypes of an inclusive internship program and a photo org-chart to build a diverse pipeline while networking with empathy within the organization.