April 8, 2018

Teaching design innovation for the networked generation

By Hani Asfour, Associate Dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI)

As we head into a world where block-chains and robots will be the norm and 85% of jobs don’t yet exist, the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) is changing how the world educates university students so that we can future proof their careers and ready them to take advantage of a new wave of unimagined opportunities.

In doing so, DIDI is creating Generationπ—right here in the UAE.

Generationπ is a multi-skilled, innovative generation that will seize these future jobs, some of which include becoming an augmented reality designer, chief drone experience designer, Internet of Things conductor or a chief design officer, among many, many others.

Generation π will be the visionaries, creative thinkers and leaders of the future.

This generation will be more empathetic than Generation X and more innovative than regular millennials.

As design educators we must ensure this next generation obtains the right kind of knowledge and skills to succeed, while also avoiding redundancy due to automation.

One way to future proof students is to offer combinational, hybrid education—teaching them more than one skill and the empathy to collaborate across disciplines.

In fact, at a recent summit in Abu Dhabi, Google stated that it is mostly interested in hiring people with multiple, not just singular skills.


Generationπ - Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation Campus


At the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) our premise is hybrid education.

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First of all, we combine design and innovation and that’s what we call our DNA

we work to humanize technology through design.

Secondly, students are empowered to design their own Bachelor of Design degree through our cross disciplinary program, which, following a foundational year, encompasses a choice of two concentrations from:

  • Product Design
  • Multimedia Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Strategic Design Management

In offering cross combinational pathways, we prepare students to enter those future careers with transferable skills and flexibility.

Combining Product Design and Multimedia Design, for example, gives students the necessary skills to develop a new app from the get-go.

Careers could include a digital product designer, UX/UI designer, 3D renderer, app designer or prototype expert.

Taking another combination, such as Fashion Design and Strategic Design Management, will open doors for students to become a merchandise strategist, wearable tech designer or an apparel production coordinator, as they learn design thinking methods and fashion design, combining both business know-how and design skills to consult or start their own design business.


Generationπ - Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation Campus


The New Breed—Generationπ

As disruptors in education, we are changing the mold of how design should be taught.

This is how we will develop Generation π.

Generation π are young people, who are rooted deeply in two design disciplines, but who are also able to work across different disciplines due to strong communication and business skills.

The idea builds on the notion of the T-shaped people, a term coined by design David Guest in the 1990s and popularized by design leaders at IDEO.

IDEO prefers employing people who have depth in one field—the stem of the ‘T’, and who possess soft skills like communication and a knack for collaboration—the top of the ‘T’.

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But at DIDI we believe that future-proofing of students requires that they are exposed to two different design skills that are transferable and versatile.

Our promise is creating ‘π people’ who will have two legs firmly planted on the ground, ready to face an uncertain future through transferable skills and a seamless ability to reach across the boundaries.

We believe Generation π will learn to weave together various skills, like research, human interaction, empathy, visual fluency and digital fluency to solve today’s and tomorrow’s complicated problems.


Generationπ - Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation Campus


Our first cohort of students will be from the iGeneration, also known as Generation Z.

They have never known life without digital technology and are able to multitask across different screens or monitors at once.

This generation prefers to have a digital conversation rather than a real conversation and have grown up between 9/11 and the recession.

As a result, they are more resourceful than the Millennials and are passionate to invest in their careers and invent new ones.

This is the generation that will enter DIDI’s doors in September 2018, where they will expand their knowledge and skillsets, and develop into Generation π — a generation that will be better prepared for tomorrow’s jobs or better yet, create their own jobs.


Know more about DIDI:

For media enquiries: Jenna Stirland / Plus 1 Communications | / 056 892 6609