Design Factory

Semester Courses.



Dr. David Reichert

ARENA2036 e.V.

Semester Courses at the Design Factory

What the Semester Courses are about

With the semester courses, Design Factory Stuttgart has been offering a practically oriented seminar since the winter semester 2020/2021, which enables students and industry partners to go through the design thinking process together based on a concrete problem. The goal is for industry partners and students to jointly develop innovative solutions that can be built upon following the semester. The guided cooperation enables a change of perspective and thus helps to see supposedly familiar issues in a completely new way.

Interdisciplinary teams of students from the University of Stuttgart and the Stuttgart Media University from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds each work on a challenge from industry over the course of a semester. Company partners can purchase a ticket for this, which includes a challenge as well as active participation in 4-5 touchpoints over the course of the semester. 

Thematically, the Design Factory is currently oriented towards the topic of sustainability, whereby this includes the ecological, economic as well as social context.


Finding the Solution by Means of the Iterative Design Thinking Process

Design thinking is an iterative innovation method at the beginning of the innovation process. It focuses on the affected user and identifies his or her pain points, deficits and problems. The second part consists of generating solutions through a wide variety of creative techniques, prototyping them with the simplest of materials, and immediately counter-testing whether the prototype's features solve the user's problem. 

To go through this process, there are a variety of tools and techniques that are used as needed. Furthermore, design thinking involves a mindset that develops during the course of the project. This includes a good dose of openness, optimism, decisiveness, empathy, teamwork, and learning from mistakes. 

Flow chart of the Design Thinking process.
Flow chart of the Design Thinking process.


Benefits of Participation in the Semester Course

Buying a ticket for a Challenge at the Design Factory means thinking out-of-the-box. The most important benefits at a glance: 

  • Change of perspective through interdisciplinary collaboration with student teams
  • New ideas and approaches to solving the problem you bring along
  • Getting to know the advantages and mindset of the design thinking process
  • Emergence of a concept prototype that can be built upon
  • Exchange with students, possibly scouting for final theses and/or working students


What could such a challenge look like?

A challenge should be formulated from the perspective of the stakeholders and must not imply any solutions. It is important that the question is open on the one hand and relevant to the problem on the other, for example: "How can oral hygiene be improved?" but not: "What can the new toothbrush look like?"

Once you have a topic or problem statement, we will work with you to formulate the challenge so that it fits the approach. In typical Design Thinking fashion, we will continue to challenge the question throughout the semester and reformulate it as necessary.

After the Semester Course

Upon request, you will receive a transfer workshop to assist you in adopting the prototype and integrating it.

How to Participate

Industry partners can purchase a ticket for the next semester (semester starts in April and October) at any time. This includes the provision of a challenge as well as active participation in the 4-5 touchpoints (each approx. 1.5h) over the course of the semester.

Students can register for the key qualification during the registration periods at their respective universities.

Interested parties who would like to gain practical design thinking experience and would like to accompany the process as mentor:in for a semester can contact us at any time.

We organize the semester courses in close cooperation with the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Stuttgart (eni).

The contact person at the institute is Dr. Ferran Giones.

Impressions from Past Semester Courses

#1 Digital Edition of the Semester Course in winter semester 2020/2021

The Design Factory thrives on personal exchange - the first two semester courses of the Design Factory Stuttgart have shown that this also works wonderfully digitally. As a pilot project, the first edition of the semester course with six challenges from ARENA2036 industry partners started in the winter semester 2020/2021 at the University of Stuttgart, in a digital version due to the pandemic. Thereby, the students used a digital whiteboard and once successfully applied all steps of the design thinking process. Touchpoints with industry partners were also able to take place virtually and creative prototypes were created. 

#2 Digital Edition of the Semester Course in Summer Semester 2021

The following summer semester was also a digital format. Many novel approaches and ideas emerged from which not only the participating students could learn. In July 2021, the Design Factory was able to facilitate a small tour of the ARENA2036 as part of the semester course, and each group was able to work out a future scenario on site through the Future Game 2050 and experience it together. Two invention disclosures have already come out of this semester.

#3 Hybrid Edition of the Semester Course in the Winter Semester 2021/2022.

After some planning and coordination, we were very pleased to be able to initially start the semester course on site in the winter semester 2021/22. At the beginning of each session, the students first gathered at the Design Factory container, the anchor point in ARENA2036, for a joint methodological input. Then the four teams spread out in different locations to work on their respective Design Thinking challenges. They were each supervised by a mentor from the Design Factory. All touchpoints were carried out as hybrid formats and on December 14th, the first testing of the prototypes with the industry partners took place in hybrid form. You can also find impressions of this on our social media accounts.