A new generation of problem solvers, a new model in education

We are increasingly facing crises on a global scale, from COVID-19 to mass forced migration, regional conflicts and environmental disasters. These events have a large-scale impact on sustaining life on our planet, on our economy, education, health, and political stability, and are incredibly challenging to solve. Innovation and entrepreneurship play a critical role in solving many of the challenges brought about by these global crises. As does education.

In response, in the fall of 2018, USC Viterbi School of Engineering launched a multidisciplinary design and innovation course. Innovation in Engineering and Design for Global Challenges brings together students, faculty, and stakeholders through a collaborative effort that leverages the power of engineering innovation, design, entrepreneurship, systems thinking, ethics and storytelling to innovate real-world solutions, implementing them in real-world settings to aid people and communities affected by global crises.

The creation of this academic program was driven by the fact that there can be no single solution to these crises, no single discipline or organization that can solve them alone, and that the world desperately needs the next generation to be equipped to take these head on.

The course teaches students of all academic backgrounds how to lead the design of products, services, and technologies with a human-centered approach, understanding and working together with affected communities.

It is geared towards highly motivated students who want to create new solutions or improve existing ones, students who welcome learning from failure and those who care deeply about cultural, economic, technological, socio-political, and geographic nuances.

From 2018 – 2020, our course focused on the global refugee crisis. From 2020-2021, we focused on the global pandemic. In 2022 we addressed sustainability challenges in Alaska’s remote communities. Our next challenge is focused on the ongoing humanitarian crises in Ukraine.

We’ve built the course on the principles of “Create, Collaborate, Innovate,” the Design Thinking approach of “Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver,” and the lean startup methodology of “Build, Measure, Learn.”

Our motto is Lives, Not Grades!

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