Royal Roads University challenge asks how to get more people to walk, bike and take transit

Royal Roads University challenge asks how to get more people to walk, bike and take transit

Design Thinking Challenge Royal Roads

Royal Roads University finished their first ever “Design Thinking Challenge” this weekend.

The event was based on what business schools call “case competitions” where teams usually go into a room for three hours and try to crack a tough business problem.

The university says they wanted to flip that idea on its head and send teams out into the community to learn about the people for who they are solving the challenge for.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps posed the first challenge, that asked for a elimination or significant reduction in the use of single occupancy vehicles by 2025 — the second question asked how to get seniors to leave behind their vehicles.

“They first went out into the city explored, they talked to people, they created videos… they did research by riding bikes,” said Royal Roads assistant professor Amy Zidulka. “They get iterative feedback, so they try out solutions and they then get feedback.”

Eight teams from post-secondary schools across Canada were at the school from Wednesday to Saturday this week.

“They are presenting to a panel, of a design thinking expert, a transportation expert…and design thinking is a way of thinking where you start with deeply understanding the people for who you want to solve a problem for,” added Zidulka.

There are three stages in the competition, first students send in a 10-minute video, then after teams adjust their solutions following feedback from judges.

In stage two they present to the judges with what they have thus far, in the final stage they are given a new challenge and present again.

“The business school ran a very successful case competition for 14 years,  and a year ago we decided we wanted to do something that was a little out of the ordinary,” said William Holmes, the dean of the faculty of management.

“We changed the case competition into more of a collaboration among students.”

The teams first began work back in February,  after the mayor challenged them to talk to people in their own cities and come up with ideas on how to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips.

“[The challenge] is definitely a different experience,” said one challenge participant. “You spend about 80 per cent of your time generating ideas and empathizing… [the biggest challenge] is the speed of the event.”

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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