Fleet Science Center - Designing Studio X

The Problem Space

The Fleet Science Center in San Diego wanted to create a space that fostered social innovation and community involvement among visitors, while using engineering technologies. Our design team set out to give Studio X visitors the tools to tackle engineering-centered community challenges, while being inspired to work on crowd-sourcing solutions to  problems that are meaningful to their community.

User Research

We began by observing the current studio. We took field notes that detailed how the space was being utilized, and what types of users we should be designing for. We also participated in some of the activities to get a feel for the level of difficulty future activities should have, and experience popular interactive workshops.

Our next step in user research was to conduct interviews with our primary stakeholders. We identified them as being visitors, museum officials, and experts on education. We discovered that each group had slightly different goals for the space so we created a stakeholder interest matrix in order to determine what we should value the most in our designs. The fleet center officials prioritized a space that is friendly for all ages, driven by the community, and engineering focused. Community members valued a space that is child friendly and conducive for learning. The experts encouraged us to allow users to implement their ideas, and for us to be considerate of their needs. Given the the feedback we received, we began focusing on empathizing with our target users, and following the guidelines of our community partners. 

Ideation

In order to begin ideating on potential solutions , we created an impact gap map to determine what already exists in the maker space field that we could build off of, and what we think would be important to develop in the future. 

Based on the our analysis of the current solutions, we decided to move forward with a makerspace that allows users to contribute to goals that are unique to their community. We became aware of challenges that similar spaces face, including challenges in finding constant qualified mentorship, and allowing users to create meaningful and lasting impact. 

Clustering

We conducted a rapid ideation activity in which each team member identified ten possible solutions or artifacts that would be useful in the makerspace. We clustered these ideas by category, and used dot voting to select our most popular options to move forward with. 

Prototyping

We developed four potential solutions, and created a a decision matrix based on the goals we identified through user research in order to select two ideas to prototype. Our criteria for the matrix were adaptability, affordability, application of engineering, use of crowd-sourcing, and flexibility for visitors. We used the outcome of the matrix to select the two ideas we would prototype and present to our community partners. 

Low Fidelity Prototypes

We took a step back in the design process, and analyzed each prototype under the scope of our user research. We ultimately created diagrams that displayed the strengths and weaknesses of each solution, as well as the core problem they solve. 

User Testing

We took our two fleshed out prototypes to our community partners at the Fleet Science Center, and walked them through the steps of our proposed maker-spaces. Our community partners gave us feedback on the aspects of our designs that they liked, like the iterative structure of both designs, and the communal tools space in the Round Robin. They also pointed out flaws in our designs like bottlenecks that would be created by our suggested layout. We used this information to create an iterative proposal that combines the best ideas from the two low fidelity prototypes. 

Iteration of Prototype
High Fidelity Prototype

We used CAD modeling to create 3D representations of the space, in order to present our ideas with as much accuracy as possible.

Screen Interaction Wireframe

With the layout of the space decided, we shifted our focus to the specific activities we would like to recommend. We knew that we wanted visitors to follow the steps of the human centered design process in order to create solutions to community challenges, but we were unsure how to teach the process, and provide the tools necessary to enact change simultaneously. I was tasked with creating a wireframe for the user interactions with the interactive screens in each section of the maker-space that correspond to different steps in the design process. Below is an example of the immerse/empathize phase. 

Implementation Plan