Insight participated in a series of student portfolio reviews during a recent visit to Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Design, where Insight industrial designer Andrew Valentine is on the board. This intimate session allowed the design professionals to thoroughly review the students work and give them detailed, constructive feedback. 

Insight spent several hours reviewing ten student portfolios. Offering content critique, the design professionals gave the students advice on communication and illustrating the thought process and how to avoid overindulging in details.

The students had many questions about format and what design firms are looking for in a designer. “The students were very accepting of our feedback and were eager to understand what would help them in the ‘real world’,” said Valentine. “We are looking forward to regular review sessions with these students to help prepare them for their careers.”

Sustainable Challenge at UIC

Insight also acted as one of four local professional mentors for UIC design students participating in the Acara Challenge, an annual, semester-long competition that requires teams to create a sustainable business plan and design solution addressing a particular worldwide social and/or environmental issue. The focus of this years challenge was clean water and renewable energy used for cooking.

The UIC students were paired with engineering students in Vellore, India who conducted user research in remote Indian villages where clean water is often an unattainable luxury. Insight worked with the UIC students to create a research protocol in order to understand the current process of water collection and purification, as well as the daily challenges faced by these villagers.

“The research was eye-opening,” said Carolyn Rose, a mentor from Insight, “It became clear that the challenge is not only purifying water, but also transporting it great distances.”

Rose’s team decided to focus on mobile solutions that would rely on a third-party entrepreneur to deliver purified water from home to home. This “sweet water man” rents a cart developed by the team that utilizes reverse osmosis to desalinate and purify contaminated water from bore wells. “I really enjoyed the experience,” said Rose. “The students’ energy and devotion was inspiring and it was a pleasure to contribute towards such a great cause.”