True or false: Information Technology students enjoy being stuck behind their computer and avoid human interaction at all costs. You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘true’ — that’s the stereotype, right? Not for much longer if the IT@JCU students can help it.
Ramisa Fayez and her Bachelor of Information Technology classmates are breaking the mould. Ramisa, a second year student, speaks highly of the community of staff and students involved in her degree. “People think of IT people as being stuck in the basement, but it’s entirely opposite. We have lots of events throughout the year. I love the community engagement and meeting the other students. We’re actually really social,” she says.
A number of factors could be contributing to this, but a key one is probably the inclusion of Design Thinking, or User-Centred Design in their course. This is a type of problem solving that emphasises understanding the client and developing empathy with them, to come up with solutions that focus heavily on the user. Design Thinking is now incorporated into each year of the three-year degree.
To succeed in user-focused problem solving, graduates need to be able to communicate well and develop their problem-solving skills throughout their studies. These skills require practice and face-to-face interaction – which is where the Design Sprint comes in.
The two-day Design Sprint is a core assessment in each year of the Bachelor of Information Technology program. “At last year’s Sprint we worked in teams of six with a mix of first and second years,” Ramisa said. “This year we’ll will be working across all three years. It’s a great format. We learn from each other and work together on various approaches, to present a solution.”
“Last year’s problem had to do with airport processes. It was a real problem, presented by to us by the executive staff at the airport. We had access to experts who we interviewed to determine each individual’s concerns. From the information we gathered, we brainstormed, collaborated within the team, went back and forth, developed prototype solutions, then tested the solutions to see which one we should present.”
“It’s great because it’s not just show and tell, it’s real,” Ramisa says. “The problems are legitimate and our solutions have the capacity to be implemented in the real world.”
In addition to this, key industry stakeholders attend the Sprint — representatives from the likes of Coca Cola/Amatil, Commonwealth Bank, Dell, Australian Computer Society and Optus attended the 2016 event— looking for potential employees.
Ramisa says Design Sprint is a great way to break up the semester. “You’re given a big problem, you push yourself and at the end of two days you can make a solution that is actually viable. You surprise yourself with how much you can achieve — while having fun at the same time.”
Last year’s ‘most innovative’ winners enjoyed a fully paid trip to Sydney for a VIP visit to the Optus ‘Yes’ Labs. Ramisa’s team won the ‘most marketable’ prize for their solution and received a $50 Visa card for each team member sponsored by Commonwealth Bank. Coca-Cola Amatil sponsored a prize, which included a grab-bag of tech gear, for the ‘best teamsmanship’.
What is she looking forward to the most about this year’s Design Sprint? “I’m looking forward to winning!”
The 2017 Design Sprint will be hosted by the Townsville Airport on the 9th and 10th October, and held in Cairns on the 12th and 13th October, location to be confirmed. The grand challenge for this year is Water Management.