May 2020
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DIDI Launches Agile Factory to Develop Solutions in Response to COVID-19

DIDI Launches Agile Factory to Develop Solutions in Response to COVID-19
  • Student-driven initiative applies start-up methodology to tackle crisis directly through design coursework.
  • Two projects from five; surgical face shields, and a community mental health support app, shortlisted as finalists in MBRU hackathon.
  • Curriculum modified for collaborative emergency response in novel approach to e-learning.
  • Reinforces Dubai’s status as a regional hub for talent, knowledge, education. 

To address the needs of local communities in the UAE during the COVID-19 Pandemic, faculty and students at Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) have launched Agile Factory, a start-up initiative that houses interdisciplinary design solutions for the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design for Good

More than 50 first- and second-year students at DIDI, the region’s only university exclusively dedicated to design and innovation, joined the Agile Factory established by their professors Dr. Renata Morais, Dr. Carlos Montana, and Sayjel Patel, to harness the power of design, emerging technologies and data gathering to create new products and services that respond to the pandemic on a local and global level.

Mohammad Abdullah, President of DIDI added: “As a university, we have a responsibility to ensure graduates are prepared to face global and local challenges with courage and determination. Our students have demonstrated their creative spark and enthusiasm in tackling such challenges head on, while also showcasing Dubai’s growing status as an international powerhouse for education that supports the UAE’s vision for a sustainable economic future.”

Hani Asfour, Dean of DIDI, said: “Agile Factory was established by our faculty and students for the community. It aims to address the multifaceted challenges that have emerged during COVID-19 through creative problem solving, critical thinking and an innovation-orientated mindset to provide solutions that can be easily applied during this unprecedented time.”

Transdisciplinary Solutions

Students at the university voluntarily joined DIDI’s Agile Factory as part of their coursework. Agile Factory covers three research areas: Open Data Interfaces, Design for Emergency, and Hacking Manufacturing.

The Hacking Manufacturing team have designed protective face shields that are fast and easy to make using local resources. Following 18 iterations, support of DIDI Fab Lab team and a round of consultations with doctors in the US, the UK, India and the UAE, the team has selected two prototypes for further development.

As part of DIDI’s common research agenda with the University of Melbourne, The Open Data Interfaces team developed their own data set collection for an online memorial platform that will use data visualisation to tell the human story behind COVID-19 fatality statistics. The purpose behind this platform is to provide a virtual grieving space in the context of the restrictions placed on traditional memorial services, following lockdowns around the world.

The Design for Emergency team has developed a prototype for a time capsule app and interactive platform to build social relationships during a time of extreme isolation. The ‘Colive 20’ app comes in response to the needs of local youth for a safe space where support for mental health and well-being can be found.

Re-Designing Design Education

Created in April, DIDI Agile Factory has already proven an important value addition. Two of its projects were among the 5 finalists from numerous entries by more than 450 participants in the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences’ #MBRUHacksCOVID19 hackathon. Students are currently exploring a range of other opportunities to support Dubai communities with the Agile Factory.

About Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation

Established in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) is a private non-profit university, located at Dubai Design District (d3) and accredited by the UAE Ministry of Education.

With its first intake in 2018, DIDI focuses on nurturing the Middle East’s next generation of designers. Its curriculum is designed to empower students to map out their own four-year educational journey, culminating in the region’s first integrated Bachelor of Design degree with a choice of concentrations in the areas of Product Design, Multimedia Design, Fashion Design and Strategic Design Management.

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