Weekly Blog

Sydnie Schira
12 min readMay 12, 2021

Week 1 (May 14) — What past school project have you enjoyed doing? Why?

One past school project that I really enjoyed doing was one that I did in my Transportation class last Fall. I worked with two industrial design students to create a robot for the airport, I designed all of the interfaces for the robots and my teammates created the actual robot. I loved doing this project because I got to work with people outside of my major, and I learned a lot about industrial design as I worked with my teammates. I also really enjoyed the process of getting to define a problem and find ways to solve it. This is something that I want to incorporate into my capstone project, but I’m not sure how to do that just yet.

Week 2 (May 21)— What past school projects have you not enjoyed doing? Why?

One past school project that I did not enjoy doing was another one from last Fall — a design methodology class where the project was mostly research based. For the class, we were tasked with choosing a wicked problem, something like deforestation or world hunger. Then, we were put into groups based off of how similar our chosen wicked problem was and then tasked with solving the overall problem that each of our individual problems had in common. I didn’t like this project because the topic I chose was not something I really cared that much about, and for the majority of the semester we did research instead of finding ways to directly solve the problem at hand. We also had to come up with a solution to the problem eventually, which we were given about 2–3 weeks to really create our solution. I feel that this project wasn’t my cup of tea because I’m not a huge fan of research — unless it leads me to a way to solve the problem at hand, and I also was a little frustrated with the timeline of the project, I wanted my group and I to come up with a really cool and unique solution to our problem, but we didn’t really have the time or the motivation to do that, and so I was kind of disappointed overall with the end result of our project. When I do my capstone project, I want to define right away the specific things I will need to research to come up with my solution, I don’t want to do pointless research because it is my least favorite part of a project.

Week 3 (May 28)— What past co-op projects have you enjoyed doing? Why?

My all time favorite project I have ever done so far in my career was what I did for Chamberlain Group last semester. I worked on a team of 5 other students, 2 engineers, 2 industrial designers, and myself and another student were UX/UI designers. We were tasked with coming up with a solution for elevator, front door, and package room access for large multi-dwelling units (MDU). We were presented with a design brief that posed this problem and we did research and together came up with 3 different solutions for the 3 areas we were focused on. Using skills from each of the 3 disciplines, we created a product line, gave it a name, made it fully functional, and presented it to the CEO of the company, along with many others from the executive board and the rest of the company. This project was so fun to work on, I loved working on a team of people from other backgrounds than myself and learning from them as I went through the project. I also loved being able to bounce ideas off of each other as we searched for our final solution and the feeling we had when we had those small but important wins throughout the process. I also was able to gain confidence in myself as a team member and designer, as my role in the project was just as integral as everyone else’s. The topic of access systems in MDU’s was not something I would have thought I would be interested in, but it was very exciting and fun to learn about and I loved solving the problem and leaving Chamberlain with a solid product line that they can hopefully put into production some day. It’s because of this project that I don’t think I need my capstone project to be a topic that I know a lot about or am wildly interested in, If its a compelling enough problem to solve, I think I will be able to keep at it without getting bored.

Week 4 (June 4) —What distractions get in the way of being my most productive?

Although I consider myself a decently productive person, there are always some things/times that get in my way and make it difficult to be productive. One of the biggest things that has slowed down my productivity in the past year is having online class and working from home. As someone that likes to get up early and have somewhere to be, not having to get up for anything causes me to become very lazy and want to sleep in more. This slows down my productivity because I am the most productive early in the morning, so when I sleep until noon, my day is cut in half and I a have missed the most productive part of my day. I try to combat this by making plans to go somewhere at a certain time in the morning to do homework like a coffee shop or even just driving 30 minutes south to do work at my mom’s house. A lot of the time, if I switch up my week by going to different places to do work and getting to work in different environments, then I can maximize my productivity and prevent myself from getting too bored with my surroundings.

Week 5 (June 11) — Capstone Project Update

For my capstone project, I have decided to do a beer brand that is focused on ocean conservation. I am still a little unsure on what this will entail entirely, but I know that I want to not only have the project involve package design for the actual cans and a little branding to create the logo and overall feel of the company, but I also want to incorporate some UX/UI work into the project that will make it unique because I want to go into UX/UI design once I graduate. I think the interaction aspect of the project can really make it unique, and I’ve already thought of some ways that I can do this. I look forward to the next couple of weeks of doing research and learning as much as I can about this topic!

Week 6 (June 18)– Capstone Project Research Update

This week, I have worked on collecting research for my capstone project. I looked into some ways that I can conduct primary research as well as already looking into some secondary research on my own time as well. I have started to look up existing sustainable designs and document what their websites look like, some things that they do to make their brand stand out, and how they connect with their customers from the standpoint of sustainability. This has been really interesting to research, as I did not know a lot of sustainable brands before looking into this. So far, I have mostly looked into sustainable clothing brands, as those seem to be the most common. Lucy & Yak was one that really stood out to me, it seems like a very successful brand and their clothes are really in style right now. I would like to accomplish this idea of being current and in style when creating my brand. I think that will help me to solve the problem of ocean conservation much easier by making my brand appeal to a lot of people.

Week 7 (June 25)–Round Robin Assignment

Something that I worked on recently that really helped to bring some new inspiration into my capstone research was the Round Robin exercise. I got to think outside of the box and come up with unique and inspirational ways to think about my topic and how I was going to go about solving it. I didn’t expect to, but I kind of enjoyed coming up with the layouts of typography and image, and some of the images that I found really helped to give me some new energy for the project, it helped me start to envision what I wanted the end result to look like aesthetically, which is something I kind of forgot to keep thinking about as I conduct my research. The 1on1 reviews for the Round Robin assignment weren’t very helpful for me to get any feedback on my project, but I enjoyed seeing what others were doing and it helped me to feel like I chose a good topic for my project.

Week 8 (July 4)– Capstone Research Update

This week I watched Seaspiracy as part of my research I am conducting on the issues that the ocean faces. The documentary was very well put together and was actually something I had meant to watch before even choosing this capstone project, so it was great to cross it off of my list. The documentary focused on getting down to the real problem of what was hurting the ocean, which is acutally overfishing and fishing in the ocean in general. There are a lot of terrible acts that go on in the ocean while fishing, and it is vital that we put a stop to it, or our oceans will be dead within our lifetime, and the human race will follow after that. Seaspiracy consisted of researchers traveling all over the world to interview people that were both a part of the problem and attempting to help the problem as well. I took notes while watching the documentary and have a lot of new questions that I want to answer as I continue with my research.

Week 9 (July 11) — Capstone Research Update

Some additional research I have been doing for my capstone project is to look into other sustainable companies and what they are actively doing to support the causes they care about. I read an article about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the ways that this can actually become a marketing tactic to stabilize a company if done correctly. Large companies such as Tom’s and Patagonia are doing many things to do their part in giving back to the world and trying to make it a better place, and consumers follow them because they have been involved in CSR since the beginning. I feel that this is something I definitely need to consider for my own brand. I also looked at some companies that set out just to help marine life. Sand cloud is a brand I have been following for a while on instagram. They make Turkish towels and sustainable products with the goal of using the profits to help save marine life from plastic pollution. Legend Bracelet does a similar thing with many different types of animals. Their bracelets are made sustainably for specific types of animals that are currently suffering, such as sharks and sea turtles that are dying due to getting caught in fishing net left behind in the ocean. They use the profits from these bracelets to donate to charities that help the environment. I am going to continue to dig deeper on sustainable companies and try to figure out the differences between just slapping the “sustainable” sticker on the packaging, and actually wanting to make a difference in the world.

Week 10 (July 18) — Capstone Research Update (Survey)

Something I did this week to utilize a class work-day was to conduct a survey for research on what people looked for in a brand, and more specifically, what they looked for when choosing a specific brand of beer. I started the survey off by asking for the person’s age to make sure I was hitting the correct demographic of people in their early to mid 20s, and then asked them if they were aware of the corporate social responsibilities that two well-known companies have taken on to gauge how aware people are of the sustainability of the brand. The companies I chose were Tom’s and Patagonia, and while the vast majority knew about Tom’s, not as many were aware of what Patagonia was doing to give back. I think I will look more into how Tom’s presents their brand to find out if there is something specific that they do to make people aware of their sustainability. After this, I asked survey takers about what they looked for in a craft beer brand to find out what motivates people to buy a new brand of beer off the shelf. I know that something that will be important with my brand is getting people to buy this beer — if they don’t buy it, then my goal on educating and informing consumers on the issues of the ocean will fail. I also asked people what types of craft beer they liked best so I knew what kinds of beers I should focus on. I want to focus on making at least 3 different types of beer, each type focusing on one main problem within the ocean. These 3 types of beer need to be well-liked and have flavors and package design that draws in consumers — something that I will be thinking about a lot once I start the ideation phase.

One of the questions from my survey that had really interesting answers!

Week 11 (July 25)–Capstone Research Update

This week we did a lot of interesting ideation exercises in class, and some of them were actually very helpful in coming up with some new ideas and broadening my idea of my capstone project. The Gant chart helped me to really focus on what deliverables I was planning on making and in what order I should do them in for the best time management. We also did an exercise where three people were nominated to speak on their capstone projects and then the rest of the class wrote sticky notes of ideas of things to research, different deliverable options, or just ways to go even more in depth with the project to make it well-rounded. The ideas that people gave me were very helpful and some of the ideas are going to help fuel my ideation for the final round robin presentation! Something unique that a lot of people commented on that I hadn’t really thought about was the idea of building a sense of community within my brand. I could have my brand host clean-up events where people gather on beaches and clean up the trash on the beach and drink the beer after. Events like that could really build a sense of community and bring inspiration to consumers, which would really help to accomplish my goal of awareness on ocean pollution. Even if I can’t build out an entire event, I think I am going to make a page for events like this on my website, and show some options for future events to plan.

Screenshot of comments from in-class exercise

Week 12 (August 1) — Capstone Ideation

Some of the ideation that I chose to do this week was to focus on the three types of beer I want to make for my project. I wanted each type of beer to focus on a particular area of pollution within the ocean, and although I did end up doing this in a way, I made it a little different. I chose to have each beer focus on an endangered marine animal, and I want to have these endangered animals relate back to large issues with pollution. The QR code that I will have on the side of the cans will direct consumers to an app clip that will tell them the story of the endangered animal featured on their can. Although I am still working on the aesthetic style for the brand itself and the cans, I have an idea of what I want to do and I did a few layout sketches of ways that I could incorporate these animals into the cans. Additionally, before I went through and did the sketches, I came up with a couple of moodboards for how I wanted each animal to look in relation to the can and the types of positions/creative drawing styles I could potentially use. Below is one of my sketches from this form of ideation.

Week 13 (August 8) — Final Ideation and Research Report

This week, I finalized all of my work for the class. I was able to complete my ideation work and to finalize my research report. I located more sources, found some professionals that I feel give me a sense of confidence in knowing that there are experts in the field that have extensive knowledge on the topics I am trying to address and I can learn from them by viewing their work. The research report was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, it was vey nice to have a basic layout for my research, in order to fully understand and digest the work I have already done and plan for the future with the work I will be doing on this project next spring. All in all, this project was enjoyable and I learned a lot about my capstone project and I am now very confident in the topic I chose and my ability to carry it out throughout the coming academic semsester.

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