EGR 487: Advanced Problem Solving Through Design Thinking

Autonomy, flexibility, confidence and rigor are essential qualities for effectively working with design thinking in real life and dealing with challenges that emerge from chaos, ambiguity and lack of structure. This course is both an in-depth experience for students who completed ENT200 or Tiger Challenge, and an opportunity to use design thinking skills to tackle problems within domains and interests they are passionate about. Students will learn designers' mindsets and a wider range of research and design methods to start working more independently as designers. Please see the Registrar's page for more information.

Sample Reading List

  • Sheila Pontis, Making sense of field research: A practical application
  • Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things
  • Elizabeth Sanders, From user-centered to participatory design approaches
  • Jon Kolko, Well designed: how to use empathy to create products
  • See instructor for complete list 


Sheila Pontis

Reading/Writing Assignments

Reading assignments will be 30-40 pp. per week. As students advance in their projects, reading assignments will be tailored to the specifics of each team's proposed solution idea. Students will have a research journal to document their project progress which they will submit five times in the semester to mark the completion of each design thinking step. The final design solution will be presented as a team and a final individual reflective report will be submitted on Dean's Date (20%).


  • Design Project - 40%
  • Oral Presentation(s) - 20%
  • Class/Precept Participation - 20%
  • Other (See Instructor) - 20%

Other Requirements

Community-Engaged Learning Component Optional 
Open to Juniors and Seniors Only. 

Prerequisites and Restrictions

Strong interest in design and in working as a designer. Completion of EGR 200, or Tiger Challenge Program, or permission by instructor. Students are expected to choose a problem area to explore from the ones suggested, or identify one not included in the list that they would like to work with. Students should submit their selection before the first class.

Other Information

Classes will combine discussions and a studio format. Students will work on a semester-long design project, which topic can be chosen from a pool of suggestions or proposed by the students. Students will be teamed up in small groups based on similar interests. Each team will be required to have one external team member acting as a "Domain expert". The Domain expert could be a professor from other department or a professional with vast knowledge in the chosen topic.