Rice Design for America
Design Innovation for Social Good


DFA Final Semester Review

Here at the DFA, the semester is coming an end and on May 2, the Rice studio held their final semester review where each team showcased their accomplishments during the year. Team “Kidhabilitation” showcased their final product and gave a presentation regarding their accomplishments and goals going forward!

The second team, “Way Home” showcased both their digital and physical maps made to help the Houston homeless population. The digital map was improved greatly in terms of usability now allowing people to quickly find their way to resources around Houston. The physical map includes twenty six resources and is printer friendly to allow a greater distribution to the homeless population. We wish both teams best of luck with their future endeavors! Get ready for even bigger and better involvement of DFA at Rice next year!

DFA Rice Presents: The Big D(esign) Challenge!

Design For America Rice proudly presents The Big Design Challenge aka THE BIG D.


  • Meet/mingle with other creativity-driven students
  • Learn about the DFA design process (human-centered design) and how to apply it to solve community issues
  • Work with a team against other teams to attack the Design Challenge (Face the D!)
  • KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Kirsten Ostherr (media scholar, design thinker, intriguingly innovative individual)
  • Pitch workshop presented by SPOCO

Finish the school year strong by participating for a chance to win cash and raffle prizes! All while learning about the human-centered design, listening to a keynote speaker, learning from SpoCo, and having fun.

For more information and to RSVP, go to:

Rice Design for America
2014 Complete Conference

On March 21-22, 2014, Rice’s Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) hosted the 2014 Complete conference. This conference is a two day program, focused on the best methods for professional development for engineers early on in their careers. The conference featured industry leaders alongside students from twenty eight top universities.

The second day of the conference featured a workshop in the Duncan commons hosted by Giselle from DFA National and Rice DFA was there to help host and facilitate the event! Giselle kicked off the event by giving an overview of Design for America and describing the approach used to working on local and social problems which includes talking directly to people, empathizing with their needs, and creating small impact which slowly leads to making a huge impact!

Current members of Rice DFA helped Giselle teach the crowd of 200 engineers the human centered design allowing them to think outside the box while offering creative examples. The audience was able to design the engineering leadership experience of the future, while keeping the needs of others in mind using a three step process. This process included the three steps used at Design for America which include understanding, creating, and implementing. Overall, the audience left with phenomenal ideas that can be implemented to improve the engineering experience of the future!

Rice Design for America
DFA Mid-Semester Review

On March 21, 2014, Design for America at Rice hosted its spring mid-semester review and it was a huge success! DFA was honored to have Giselle from DFA National join in help leading the review. The review began with each of the two teams giving a presentation updating the rest of the DFA members on their progress, timeline, and their final vision for their projects. The first team kicked off the review by presenting a printed copy of their map as well as showcasing their online map. However they are still in the process in getting feedback to make both versions of the maps as effective as possible as well as correctly and clearly displaying the information. The second team, who self proclaimed themselves, kidhabilitation, continued the review by presenting a rough prototype of their safety harness to help stabilize physically disabled children when using bathroom assistive devices. Exciting things are in the future for this team!

After a quick break, Giselle led a series of workshops to help the teams further develop and execute their ideas in an effective way. The workshops included giving the students a limited supply of materials and having the students come up with ways to solve the issues in creative ways always keeping in mind the human centered design portion. Giselle left the students equipped with the necessary resources and tools to continue working on their individual projects with new ideas and making the greatest impact. Stay tuned for updates on the individual teams!

Rice Design for America
A New Year for Design for America


With the start of a new year, Design for America is ready to get back to work, accomplish their many goals, and make an impact! Today Design for America held their first open studio of the semester and things are looking great! DFA has two main teams this semester  looking to make an impact to both the homeless population and the physically disabled population. The first team is looking to create a map which would facilitate the homeless population’s access to resources. The team is working on two versions of the map; a printed version and a digital version which would be found around most of the homeless shelters in Houston. The second team is working to make a versatile,cheap, and safe device that would help fit the needs of the physically and mentally disabled children population at the medical center. Throughout this semester, DFA will also host various social events, so be on the lookout for that!

Stay tuned for more updates and how to get involved with Design for America!

Rice Design for America
DFA Retreat Update

This weekend, Design for America had their first retreat in the OEDK. The three project teams are working on the following projects:

Team 1: The team is involved in creating a simplified map for homeless people to find nearby resources. They are in touch with homeless shelters in Houston, identifying the real needs of the community.

Team 2: The team is working on creating a physical rehabilitation device for mentally and physically disabled children. They are in contact with Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital, in order to identify the needs of disabled children.

Team 3: The team is designing a pen/wristband device that can easily measure glucose levels in diabetes patients, ensuring that it is less conspicuous and painful than the procedures now in place.

Right now, all three teams are still in the ideation/designing process; however, in the next few weeks, the teams will beginning their first prototypes, tackling the most difficult elements of their process first.

Rice Design for America
Design for America Begins at Rice

We would like to welcome the 28 new members to Design for America at Rice University! Today we had our first open studio during which the three project teams began to realize their mission statements. This year Design for America at Rice will be led by three co-founders, Sonia Garcia, Katharine Li, and Margaret Watkins. 

The open studio kicked off with some ice-breakers so that everyone could get to know each other. The group then split into their individual teams to begin working on their team charters identifying their experiences in design, their team dynamics, goals, and strengths and weaknesses. During this time the teams used colorful sticky notes to write down any creative ideas that sparked!

The teams will continue meeting weekly and open studios will take place bimonthly. The team will be holding various Rice fundraisers including a memorable movie night so be on the look-out for that! We look forward to an exciting year and making DFA at Rice a long-term well known program!


Rice Design for America
Warming Up to Change

Your DFA representatives from Rice are getting to meet some amazing people over here at the Leadership Studio! Among the great speakers, one of the highlights was Veronika Scott, founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan. This non-profit organization started out in Detroit with a single university student (Veronika) on a mission to help her local homeless community. Over the course of two years, she went from trying to help keep individuals warm by sewing a coat together, to running an organization that builds a better life for those trapped by homelessness though providing jobs and hiring women in shelters to construct waterproof coats made of recycled material that also transform into sleeping bags for others who are homeless at no cost to them.

Veronika’s story and dedication is an amazing example of the potential impact that human-centered design can have. She serves as a great reminder to young students by proving through her own accomplishments that you can make a significant impact and turn your visions into reality with the right amount of dedication and perseverance.

Rice Design for America
Joining the DFAmily

We’re so proud to announce that after a year of hard work and dedication, Rice University has been accepted by Design for America (DFA) as an official studio! As one of the newest members of the DFAmily, we have been integrated into an amazing nationwide network that includes studios from universities like Yale, Stanford, Northwestern, Duke, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, UCLA, and Columbia, to name a few.

The founders of the Rice Studio are currently heading out to Chicago, IL to participate in a national DFA Leadership Studio Conference located in the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University. Throughout the week, they will undergo a series of training sessions regarding studio management and structure, participate in several design-intensive workshops, network with and listen to some of the greatest thinkers, doers, entrepreneurs, and idealists in the country, and actively engage in the design process by taking on a mini-project to combat urban flooding.

Stay tuned to find out how everything went, and get ready to have a spectacular Design for America studio at Rice this fall!

Rice Design for America