On February 9th and 10th, four Booth MBA students: Luciana Ferreira, Maria Ptouchkina, Justin McCarthy, and David Covey traveled to Toronto, Canada to compete in the Rotman Design Challenge hosted by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto against 31 teams from 17 different schools. (Alida Valdivia was also part of the team but was unable to travel to RDC.)
The Rotman Design Challenge brings together students from leading business and design schools to ideate, create, and present innovative solutions for a complex business problem posed by a corporate sponsor. The purpose of the challenge is to allow participants gain insights and practical experience with the design-thinking and innovation tools and methods.
This year the sponsor for the competition was Kingspan, a global building materials company. The question posed by Kingspan targeted the heart of digital disruption within construction: “Change and disruption in the construction industry is inevitable but where is it going to come from and in what form?”
Our team, Deep Dish, kicked off the design-thinking process with 8 in-depth interviews with stakeholders across the construction ecosystem. The goal was to dive deep and understand the various key players and their individual challenges and opportunities. We spoke with architects interior designers, construction managers and civil engineers, investment analysts and real-estate developers. Armed with unique insights and perspectives, we began to generate ideas - and we got well over 100! We discussed opportunities within advanced technologies, the potential of education and university partnerships, new ways of working together, and many others. But we kept coming back to the simple idea that everyone is quite familiar with - Legos! Our final idea was Kingo Blocks - a modular system of Lego-inspired blocks with acoustic insulation that helps Do-It-Yourself customers to create unique spaces within their homes and to express their own creativity.
On Day 1, 31 teams and over 150 students presented their best ideas to a panel of judges one by one. Our team Deep Dish was one of just seven teams to advance to the final round, and on Day 2, we presented to the entire RDC 2019 community. It was beyond thrilling! It was also an incredible opportunity to observe the unique ideas that other teams have come up with - from smart construction suits to technology platforms that measure buildings’ resilience. Even though we did not win the competition, we left feeling accomplished and proud. Commenting on the entire RDC competition experience, Luciana said, “A design competition is something that you can’t completely understand until you do your first one. It’s not about winning, it’s about applying design thinking and learning from other teams. You always feel you’ll do better next time after watching what they have done.”