TIL Design Project

About

Working on complex problems asks for interdisciplinary teams. A successful team uses the knowledge (theories, methodologies) and skills from all its members to develop solutions that cannot be found by most individuals. The results shall have real practical and sufficient academic relevance.

Why design?

Design has been defined as "an open-ended and iil-structured process (..) with no unique solution and the candidate solutions cannot be generated with an algorithm." A design/systems engineering method should be used "to support decision making and trade-offs among competing possible solutions. Algorithms and mathematical formulations cannot replace the qualitative research tasks (such as stakeholder and requirements analysis), but they can be used later in the design process."
"The lack of structure and inadequacy of mathematical tools leads to the use of conceptual analysis in the first stage of the design process."

Reference

Small teams at work

The Design project is a final test in interdisciplinary collaboration and a very useful preparation for your thesis project. Teams consist of 4-5 students with different bachelor and master specialisations, gender and in case of a multicultural team, also different (education) cultures and languages.
During a period of about 11 weeks you work on an assignment.

Enrollment and start

More information can be found here.

Assignments

Each team will have its own unique project experience. Commissioners are usually external parties; a company or a government agency. You have to attract these commissioners yourselves, which is another challenge. It is also possible to carry out an internal project at the TUD (if available). Each project offers an invaluable opportunity to work inside a company or government agency. You will be treated as a fellow worker. Usually companies are willing to pay an internship fee as well.

About methodology

The core methodology is always systems engineering. This helps you to see a problem as part of a larger system, to scope your project, to find the root causes the problem and to develop design criteria, constraints and kpi. These help you to finetune and evaluate your designs. You use several other methods and tools in the problem analysis phase and in the design phase.
The problem analysis deals with the what and why questions related with the problem. The design phase is meant to develop a few alternative ways of working in the organisation in order to mitigate / 'solve' its problems. If you develop a tool like a model, then this is just a tool to test the assumptions and possible effects of your designs, not the aim of the project. The same holds for a tool like a scenario analysis.
Any method should be applied in a rigorous and transparent manner. The solutions should be applicable in practice and, once implemented, help to solve or mitigate the perceived problem(s) of your commissioner. Supply-oriented approaches always fail in this project.
Unlike other courses, this is not a course where you (are supposed to) study (a lot). You learn many valuable and practical things about research and design.

Coaching

A Design project is intended to ‘mimic’ a real-life project experience. The project is an externally monitored, but not managed project. This means that you are largely responsible for the results. Weekly coaching is offered by 2 TIL lecturers. If the project is carried out for a company or government agency, then there will also be at least one customer coach.

Workload

This 10 EC course is very time consuming. It takes at least 2,5 days, sometimes 3,5 days per week. This is why it is scheduled in the second year of the TIL master. The team can decide where to work, but it is essential that each member works at least 1 day at the office of the company or agency.

The enrolment requirements have been reduced to the absolute minimum. As a consequence, your enrolment form will be ignored if you don't fulfil these three requirements:

  • 1. Completed subjects amounting to a total of at least 45 credits four weeks before the first day of the educational period in which the project will commence;
  • 2. Finished TIL4030-16 successfully. It contains an introduction to Design theory and methods that you have to apply in this course;
  • 3. Your enrolment form should be accepted four weeks before day 1 of the course quarter. The earlier the better. In this way you have enough time to find a commissioner and a project, time to write a PVS document and start on time.

If you enrol as a team, then all team members should fulfil the prerequisites mentioned above.

In principle, the course is given each quarter, if there are at least 4 students to build a team.
We try to balance the load over all study quarters. This also leads to a higher chance that your topic is accepted. Logistics is the most popular subject. There are however more than enough traffic and (public) transport topics, which also offer interesting 'internships' at consultancy firms or local governments.

Many students prefer an external project. An internal project can provide a comparable experience. It also takes less process management and travel time.

More information

There is a compulsory Course manual and a portal on Brightspace. After you enrol in the course by sending in your enrolment form, you can have a start-up meeting with the Course Coordinator. He will help you with your PVS and arrange most practical things (supervision etc.) to allow you to have a good start and to successfully carry out your project.

Rules

Article 6 of the Annex of the Teaching and Examination Regulations (TER) applies.

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