Skip to content
ucsd extension design bootcamp

Design Lab and UCSD Extension Team Up for Design Bootcamp

Design Lab and UCSD Extension Team Up for Design Bootcamp

Design Lab and UCSD Extension Team Up for Design Bootcamp

This past July, San Diego high school students embarked on a five-day dive into anthropology and design as part of Design Bootcamp, a collaboration between the UC San Diego Design Lab and UC San Diego Extension.

The class first emerged from the demand for design workshops in San Diego coupled with UC San Diego’s interest in offering classes to pre-collegiate students. “This first Research Scholars ‘Design Bootcamp,’ if you will, is our first prototype,” says Michele Morris, Design Lab Associate Director. “The needs of the University, the expertise of the Design Lab, and the community platforms of UC San Diego’s Extension all came together seamlessly.”

Mayya Azarova, a Design Lab Anthropology PhD candidate, joined the team as the Bootcamp’s inaugural instructor.  Coupling her background in anthropology with design, the team customized an offering focused around ethnography and empathy-building.

While the Bootcamp was in session, the group met every morning for a synchronous class, where they discussed readings and Azarova led exercises. 

Azarova compared the class to a small tutoring group. “You can [give] very personalized attention to every student, and they really liked that. They liked that everyone could speak in class, express themselves, talk through their homework, so it’s not the type of homework you submit and you’ll never know whether anyone read it and you just get some grade,” she says. “The work you do matters, because then you’ll be describing and presenting it, and you’ll hear the feedback and listen [to] how your work was perceived by other people.”

Because the Bootcamp was geared towards a younger audience, the curriculum and pacing were different from a traditional design class. “It was not your typical jump into design thinking, all the stages, and practicing and prototyping, discovering the problem, prototyping solutions and presenting it,” explains Azarova. “We spent quite a lot of time on talking about anthropology as a discipline and how it relates to design, and design is also a big umbrella term, so that took some time. I wanted them to come out of this course understanding the broader, humanistic perspective [for] the world and how the research they’re doing could affect other people.”

One of Azarova’s favorite moments in the class was observing how the students started seeing objects in their lives differently. “We based our classwork on Don’s book [the] Design of Everyday Things, and I think it’s always very fun for students to start looking at the things that are around them [with] new, fresh eyes,” says Azarova. “They start [thinking], ‘Oh, this means [this] was also designed, like everything around us, someone put some thought into it.’ It’s not only the bridge, not only the building, it’s everything around us, including the processes.”

This is not the Design Lab’s first foray into offering design education for a younger crowd. As part of the Educators Alliance, the Lab is plugged into a community of San Diego educators teaching design to students from elementary school to college level and beyond. 

Morris speaks to the importance of introducing design methods and thinking at a young age. “In these early ages, they’re figuring out how to think, not just what to think. As we move forward, as we go along in our educational journey, and as we get older, we tend to focus more on the what and less on the how. It’s harder to change the how,” she says. “For example, one of the best submissions for the Design Lab’s Design For San Diego Challenge (d4sd.org) this year came from a first grade class out of Del Mar Union School District, and it was just because of the wonder, the curiosity, the humility, the confidence. I think that’s what makes the human experience worthwhile and what makes design magical.”

In terms of the future of the Bootcamp, Morris and Azarova hope to build on the current model and make it even better in the coming years. 

“We are thrilled to partner with UCSD Extension on this. They have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and are wonderful to work with.  From a content perspective, our hope is that we’ll be able to build out multiple versions of this Bootcamp to accommodate a wide spectrum of design interests, genres, specialties, etc.,” says Morris. “From a logistics standpoint, our goal is to learn from this first prototype both internally, in terms of how we can operate better, but also in partnership with Extension so that their program and UCSD as a whole will be elevated through offerings like this one.”

This past July, San Diego high school students embarked on a five-day dive into anthropology and design as part of Design Bootcamp, a collaboration between the UC San Diego Design Lab and UC San Diego Extension.

The class first emerged from the demand for design workshops in San Diego coupled with UC San Diego’s interest in offering classes to pre-collegiate students. “This first Research Scholars ‘Design Bootcamp,’ if you will, is our first prototype,” says Michele Morris, Design Lab Associate Director. “The needs of the University, the expertise of the Design Lab, and the community platforms of UC San Diego’s Extension all came together seamlessly.”

Mayya Azarova, a Design Lab Anthropology PhD candidate, joined the team as the Bootcamp’s inaugural instructor.  Coupling her background in anthropology with design, the team customized an offering focused around ethnography and empathy-building.

While the Bootcamp was in session, the group met every morning for a synchronous class, where they discussed readings and Azarova led exercises. 

Azarova compared the class to a small tutoring group. “You can [give] very personalized attention to every student, and they really liked that. They liked that everyone could speak in class, express themselves, talk through their homework, so it’s not the type of homework you submit and you’ll never know whether anyone read it and you just get some grade,” she says. “The work you do matters, because then you’ll be describing and presenting it, and you’ll hear the feedback and listen [to] how your work was perceived by other people.”

Because the Bootcamp was geared towards a younger audience, the curriculum and pacing were different from a traditional design class. “It was not your typical jump into design thinking, all the stages, and practicing and prototyping, discovering the problem, prototyping solutions and presenting it,” explains Azarova. “We spent quite a lot of time on talking about anthropology as a discipline and how it relates to design, and design is also a big umbrella term, so that took some time. I wanted them to come out of this course understanding the broader, humanistic perspective [for] the world and how the research they’re doing could affect other people.”

One of Azarova’s favorite moments in the class was observing how the students started seeing objects in their lives differently. “We based our classwork on Don’s book [the] Design of Everyday Things, and I think it’s always very fun for students to start looking at the things that are around them [with] new, fresh eyes,” says Azarova. “They start [thinking], ‘Oh, this means [this] was also designed, like everything around us, someone put some thought into it.’ It’s not only the bridge, not only the building, it’s everything around us, including the processes.”

This is not the Design Lab’s first foray into offering design education for a younger crowd. As part of the Educators Alliance, the Lab is plugged into a community of San Diego educators teaching design to students from elementary school to college level and beyond. 

Morris speaks to the importance of introducing design methods and thinking at a young age. “In these early ages, they’re figuring out how to think, not just what to think. As we move forward, as we go along in our educational journey, and as we get older, we tend to focus more on the what and less on the how. It’s harder to change the how,” she says. “For example, one of the best submissions for the Design Lab’s Design For San Diego Challenge (d4sd.org) this year came from a first grade class out of Del Mar Union School District, and it was just because of the wonder, the curiosity, the humility, the confidence. I think that’s what makes the human experience worthwhile and what makes design magical.”

In terms of the future of the Bootcamp, Morris and Azarova hope to build on the current model and make it even better in the coming years. 

“We are thrilled to partner with UCSD Extension on this. They have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and are wonderful to work with.  From a content perspective, our hope is that we’ll be able to build out multiple versions of this Bootcamp to accommodate a wide spectrum of design interests, genres, specialties, etc.,” says Morris. “From a logistics standpoint, our goal is to learn from this first prototype both internally, in terms of how we can operate better, but also in partnership with Extension so that their program and UCSD as a whole will be elevated through offerings like this one.”

This past July, San Diego high school students embarked on a five-day dive into anthropology and design as part of Design Bootcamp, a collaboration between the UC San Diego Design Lab and UC San Diego Extension.

The class first emerged from the demand for design workshops in San Diego coupled with UC San Diego’s interest in offering classes to pre-collegiate students. “This first Research Scholars ‘Design Bootcamp,’ if you will, is our first prototype,” says Michele Morris, Design Lab Associate Director. “The needs of the University, the expertise of the Design Lab, and the community platforms of UC San Diego’s Extension all came together seamlessly.”

Mayya Azarova, a Design Lab Anthropology PhD candidate, joined the team as the Bootcamp’s inaugural instructor.  Coupling her background in anthropology with design, the team customized an offering focused around ethnography and empathy-building.

While the Bootcamp was in session, the group met every morning for a synchronous class, where they discussed readings and Azarova led exercises. 

Azarova compared the class to a small tutoring group. “You can [give] very personalized attention to every student, and they really liked that. They liked that everyone could speak in class, express themselves, talk through their homework, so it’s not the type of homework you submit and you’ll never know whether anyone read it and you just get some grade,” she says. “The work you do matters, because then you’ll be describing and presenting it, and you’ll hear the feedback and listen [to] how your work was perceived by other people.”

Because the Bootcamp was geared towards a younger audience, the curriculum and pacing were different from a traditional design class. “It was not your typical jump into design thinking, all the stages, and practicing and prototyping, discovering the problem, prototyping solutions and presenting it,” explains Azarova. “We spent quite a lot of time on talking about anthropology as a discipline and how it relates to design, and design is also a big umbrella term, so that took some time. I wanted them to come out of this course understanding the broader, humanistic perspective [for] the world and how the research they’re doing could affect other people.”

One of Azarova’s favorite moments in the class was observing how the students started seeing objects in their lives differently. “We based our classwork on Don’s book [the] Design of Everyday Things, and I think it’s always very fun for students to start looking at the things that are around them [with] new, fresh eyes,” says Azarova. “They start [thinking], ‘Oh, this means [this] was also designed, like everything around us, someone put some thought into it.’ It’s not only the bridge, not only the building, it’s everything around us, including the processes.”

This is not the Design Lab’s first foray into offering design education for a younger crowd. As part of the Educators Alliance, the Lab is plugged into a community of San Diego educators teaching design to students from elementary school to college level and beyond. 

Morris speaks to the importance of introducing design methods and thinking at a young age. “In these early ages, they’re figuring out how to think, not just what to think. As we move forward, as we go along in our educational journey, and as we get older, we tend to focus more on the what and less on the how. It’s harder to change the how,” she says. “For example, one of the best submissions for the Design Lab’s Design For San Diego Challenge (d4sd.org) this year came from a first grade class out of Del Mar Union School District, and it was just because of the wonder, the curiosity, the humility, the confidence. I think that’s what makes the human experience worthwhile and what makes design magical.”

In terms of the future of the Bootcamp, Morris and Azarova hope to build on the current model and make it even better in the coming years. 

“We are thrilled to partner with UCSD Extension on this. They have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and are wonderful to work with.  From a content perspective, our hope is that we’ll be able to build out multiple versions of this Bootcamp to accommodate a wide spectrum of design interests, genres, specialties, etc.,” says Morris. “From a logistics standpoint, our goal is to learn from this first prototype both internally, in terms of how we can operate better, but also in partnership with Extension so that their program and UCSD as a whole will be elevated through offerings like this one.”

Read Next

Sean Cross

Sean Kross explains the uses of The Wizard of Oz Technique in Design | Design Chats


Sean Kross, Graduate Student at UC San Diego, explains The Wizard of Oz Technique in design and what benefits it provides for designers.

Design Chats is a video series where we sit down with design practitioners to answer questions about how they utilize human-centered design.

View our Design Chats playlist on the Design Lab YouTube Channel

The Worst F&#%ing Words Ever

Triton Magazine

Benjamin Bergen is a professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego and director of the Language and Cognition Lab, where he studies how our minds compute meaning and how talking interferes with safe driving—among many other things that don’t need to be bleeped. His latest book is What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves. He calls it “a book-length love letter to profanity.” You’ve been warned.
Uc San Diego Design Lab Viasat

Viasat Invests in UC San Diego’s Design Lab

Viasat gift helps researchers provide guidance to engineering organizations on ways to implement a ‘design…

Design Lab Sheng-feng Qin

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School…

Uc San Diego Design Lab

Design Lab and MIT Media Lab Join Forces to Organize a Design·a·Hack·a·thon

No hackathon would be complete without cardboard prototypes strewn about the room, laptop screens glowing with code, and the edgy excitement of teams working against the clock. Hackathons concentrate the efforts of talented, highly motivated participants eager to develop new technologies. There is, however, often one key element missing from this picture: the people for whom these technologies might serve. This inspired The Design Lab to ask, “How might we make designing for people the central element of a hackathon?” Answer: we needed to make “design” a central component. Designathons and Design Swarms exist, but they didn’t quite fit our need to combine both designing and doing (hacking) in a very short, highly condensed manner. Eventually we ended up with Design·a·Hack·a·thon.

Don Norman speaks on The Future of Design at the New School of Architecture

A crowd gathers as Don Norman prepares to speak on the Future of Design at the…

Back To Top