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Hi everyone! My name is Nidhi, and I am a first-year undergraduate student at Duke who participated in the 2030 Design Sprint Winter Breakaway program. I first approached this program as a student interested in innovation and education, but I only had brief introductions to these topics through high school courses or online articles. While approaching my major exploration as an undecided student, both entrepreneurship and subjects related to digital humanities are topics that greatly interest me. I signed up for the 2030 Design Sprint to learn more about my interests. We had a few pre-reading assignments, and then learned about the four stages of the open design process (understand, create, evaluate, and share).

We spent the first few days becoming introduced to our team and conducting interviews. I really valued the interviews we conducted. I had the opportunity to talk to students in the Winter Breakaway program, as well as Duke faculty and Durham natives, to receive input about their needs. Through this process, I also learned a lot of valuable information about many of Durham’s and Duke’s offices. Then, our group decided to focus on building a better community between Duke and Durham based on the feedback we received from interviews.

We moved into an ideation phase, and began brainstorming many different ideas to address the question, “How might we create meaningful and accessible opportunities for Duke students to engage positively with the Durham community while creating sustainable, trust-based partnerships?”

We created many ideas based on different criteria (“If you could wave a magic wand and make anything happen, what would you do?” was one of my personal favorites), narrowed down three to make more concrete, and made our first prototype. Then, based on feedback and testing, our team altered the prototype to come up with our final-ish idea (that’s still a work in progress, but we hope to refine outside of this program!).

We ended up creating an “Arts and Culture Festival” that would encourage Duke students to become involved with the Durham community during Orientation Week, at the beginning of their college experiences. This would allow students to intentionally think about the community they are living in while navigating their way through college.

We were really excited about this idea, and also received positive feedback from our test audience! It was super insightful to see everyone’s final presentations on the last day. We had all gone through similar processes in different teams, and though I had seen most of the ideas in some capacity through peer reviews and other feedback processes, I loved seeing the final products come together.

Based on my experience, the Winter Breakaway program was really valuable, and I’m glad I participated. I liked the fast-paced and immersive atmosphere of the program. I loved learning more about the design process, interacting with peers I normally wouldn’t see, and learning more about Duke. I am appreciative to all of the leadership staff, design coaches, and my teammates for helping me through this process, and I can’t wait to see what all of our ideas become!