Luther College hosts DMC Design Thinking Workshop

From zero gravity athletic tape to holographic social aids, the ideas were flowing in Dahl Centennial Union at Luther College Thursday night when Destination Medical Center (DMC) and Mayo Clinic piloted their Design Thinking Workshop. With the intent of exposing people to design thinking, entrepreneurship and collaboration, representatives from Mayo Clinic fostered an environment of innovative thinking.

“DMC is really interested in curating an ecosystem of innovation. The idea behind targeting universities is getting at young people who are thinking about their careers and thinking about what their capabilities are and exposing them to entrepreneurship in a way that perhaps they would not have considered or didn’t realize they had passion or skills in,” said Tracee Vetting Wolf, Mayo Clinic service designer.

The focus of the workshop was on design thinking, a process for creative problem-solving using a human-centered approach. Luther students, faculty, staff and Decorah community members spent time thinking about how things could be for people with various disabilities, as opposed to thinking about how they currently are. Small groups came up with various ideas, took a close look at how disabilities impact people and the world around us and ultimately proposed new solutions to current problems.

Chris Schad, director of business development at Discovery Square, explained why they are taking their time to partner with universities to teach this skill.

“While we spend some of our time attracting companies in, we also want to grow our own and to do that, we have to teach entrepreneurship and how to develop products and services into the market,” said Schad.

Gabriel McKelvey is a sophomore at Luther. His group thought up an electrotherapy implant to help with back pain.

“Our solution was some sort of electrotherapy device that would either attack the source of the pain or where the pain is interpreted. We thought this would be a great alternative to chemicals which do the same thing but can be addictive,” said McKelvey.

So what’s next for these ideas? Facilitators suggest entering them into the 2020 Assistive Tech Challenge presented by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square.

“It’s a pitch competition that allows students and anyone else who wants to participate to push their ideas further. The winner gets money that is geared at helping them bring their ideas into the world,” said Vetting Wolf.

Both Vetting Wolf and Schad described their experience with the Luther and Decorah community as being a great experience. “The turnout was amazing, and everyone was engaged and it just made the whole thing fun,” said Vetting Wolf.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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