UX Bootcamp: Students use their design superpowers for good

As (a very excited!) Alan Cooper says in the video above, today is a big day for us at Cooper U: A small group of designers, engineers, and product managers are joining forces in Columbus, Ohio for our very first UX Bootcamp competition. They will have four days to learn Cooper U’s design methods, break into teams, and design mobile application concepts that will empower and inspire members of ClubRED (a volunteer organization within the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus). The final concepts will be presented to the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus on Thursday, and we will donate $1000 to the nonprofit in the name of the winning team.
We developed UX Bootcamp in response to the need for practical design education programs in areas of the country where technology and design are on the rise. As our very own Kendra Shimmell, Director of Cooper U, best explains, “We realized that the skills we are teaching in San Francisco aren’t as readily available in other parts of the country. The user experience design industry is exploding, and there is so much opportunity to give people in other regions more access to this growing field and have a positive impact on their local economies. So, we decided to create a traveling workshop where students collaborate directly with a local non-profit partner to solve a real world need. What could be more gratifying that learning new skills within that context?”
ClubRED volunteers and American Red Cross of Greater Columbus staff will be on hand throughout the workshop for research interviews and feedback, to ensure that the final design concepts are rooted in real needs, desires and goals of ClubRED volunteers. As Alan says, “The foundation of user experience design and our approach to teaching lies in a commitment to designing things that people really need and use. To do that well, you have to make time to learn about the people you design for, and that is part of how we’ve designed this workshop.”
Another unique aspect of our approach to UX Bootcamp is an emphasis on teaching the softer skills that impact the success of design within organizations. Most design schools will teach you how to design, but they don’t teach you how to be a successful designer in the real world. When students enter the workforce, they often have to figure out how to work with cross-functional teams or how to sell their designs internally. We’re trying to speed up that learning process by integrating these kinds of concepts into our curriculum.
So, what’s next for Cooper U’s UX Bootcamp? After this workshop, we’re going to refine the curriculum to reflect what we learn from working with this group of students, ClubRED, and the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus. Then, we’re going to cultivate more of these kinds of partnerships in other regions. We’ll be looking for interesting new problems to solve that could have a real impact on local communities. So, if you know of one, let us know! Ultimately, we’d like to expand this team-based approach to real-world challenges globally.
We’ll share the design solutions our students come up with soon. Stay tuned!
PS: If you’d like to be notified when our next UX Bootcamp is lined up, send your email address to

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