Usman’s Blog



It was very excited to be in Meta Design project class. Due to Pandemic all classes have gone remote learning. This is the new normal of University education. It is better to accept the new reality instead of being in the state of denial.

So let’s come back to the topic. The first week was kind of introduction. Both professores introduced themselves to the class and each one one us also did a quick personal introduction. Unlike the past years in fourth year core course we have two thesis advisors / instructors. Prof. Job Rutgers & Prof. Reza Mortezaei are my course instructors and thesis advisors. Prof. Job Rutgers gave a complete introduction of the course timeline and learning outcomes. He briefed about the strategies of weekly meetings and course modules. The course has been divided into 13 learning modules and 4 periods A,B,C,D. Each module would be covered in two days a  week, Monday and Wednesday. Mondays has been set up for lectures and Wednesdays are for weekly readers discussions. In each class the second half is dedicated for group conversation and collaborative work assignments. In which all group members can share their ideas and get feedback from each others. During the first week i and my group members has a formal discussions about new learning format and online learning.

I have diverse ideas regarding my Meta project. I feel little overwhelmed and confused that what path should i take and around what problem should i wrap my design solution.


 This was a formal start of Period 2 “Discovery and Project framing”. This week we covered Module 2 Discovery. In week 2 on Monday class Prof. Job Rutgers introduced us Foresighting techniques and process. Foresight term in design language is predicting new trends in industry landscape in near future. In the lecture a case study of Philips Hue  project was analysed. We also learned how scenarios an ideas are emerged in foresighting exercises.

We were also introduced with STEEPV analysis tool for brainstorming and trend analysis. STEEPV is a great tool for project foresighting.It also help identifying opportunities on the cluster map.

After the lecture we were asked to do a STEEPV exercise to find and highlight ongoing trends and find 3 opportunities in group discussion. Me and my group members helped each others on our interested area of Meta Project with the help of the STEEPV tool. Due to this tool almost all of us start seeing a clear picture of our proposed ideas and design opportunities.

On Wednesday class of week 2 Prof. Reza Mortezaei introduced us to a weekly reading “Shape of tomorrow” series from Fast company.  The article was on that “The travel industry will survive COVID-19, but with big changes”. In this reading executives of top travel companies including  Hyatt, Airbnb, Kayak explained that how their business have been affected by the pendenic and how they are planning to evolve their businesses in order to survive in this unprecedented financial overturn. After the lecture we were asked to do group exercises to use STEEPV tool for Hyatt Hotels future business model and able to highlight areas of growth opportunities.

overall it was very fast paced week as we learned a lot and explored new thinking and strategic tool in a limited amount of time.


I had been lost in the thought process regarding the area of through the week. I used STEEPV tool for finding design opportunities in different domains of issue. I started with doing research on mental health issues related with children with ASD. spent my whole weekend on research and finding opportunity areas. My thought process was overclocked  with overwhelming information. I found myself trapped. and take finally decided to take a step back and give myself a break.

On Monday class in week 3  Prof. Job Rutgers introduced us with a new tool to frame our project called Project Framing. Sounds like a picture frame. Prof. Rutgers also refers this tool with hand frame which is used to filter down the unwanted landscape an picture the opportunity or best scene in a frame.

Albert Einstein once quoted  “If I have an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution”

I just copied and pasted from Prof. Rutgers presentation because it was no doubt a best way to frame a solution for a problam. Problems paves the way to their solutions. just like necessity ie the mother of invention.

We were introduced to 4 Ws

Who is affected?
What is the problem?
Where does it happen?
Why does it matter?

After the lecture we were asked to help each other to identify these 4 Ws in our design problems. During the group discussion we identified the affectees of the problems, problem itself , the domain where these problems were arising and also highlighted the the urge of need to solve the problems.

This exercise was different from STEEPV but it helps narrowing and filtering down the unwanted information which frame the picture with data boundaries.

I am also narrowing down my information and topic research. I am hopeful that i will be able to find something which needs a solution.

 On Wednesday class Prof. Reza Mortezaei discussed the weekly reader which highlighted the causes of the failure and successes of various design products. The article also explained the importances of framing a problem. The reading also highlights  importance of The 4Ws and explains that how Empathy can help designer to put them in user’s shoes and to observe the problems  from their perspective.

At the end of the week i am finally able to find the area of the problem in which i would do my research analysis and would be able to find the areas of design opportunity.


Monday (Presentation skills  lecture)


Got sick

Got COVID test done


Missed Prof. Rutgers lecture on “Period 2 Intro, M5 Intro + Research Overview”  due to illness

Got negative covid result but not in good shape

Attended Wednesday lecture


First one on one meeting with  Prof. Job Rutgers