A New Project-Based Curriculum of Design Thinking with Systems Engineering Techniques

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We developed a new education curriculum called "ALPS" (Active Learning Project Sequence) at Keio University that emphasizes team project-based learning and design thinking with systems engineering techniques. ALPS is a 6 month course, in which students work as a team and design and propose innovative systems. Students identify requirements, propose solution scenarios, and define competitive products or service systems. The multi-university faculty team consists of members of one Japanese university (Keio University), two US universities (Stanford University and MIT), and one European university (TU Delft). The faculty team members from these universities teach design thinking methods and systems engineering methods along a "V model" roadmap. Each year, the university team announces a grand theme. The themes we announced so far were "Enhancing Senior Life in Japan" in 2008, "Creation of Sustainable Community" in 2009, “Safety and Security” in 2010, and “Symbiosis and Synergy” in 2011. Since 2010, the university team asked companies, government, and nonprofit organizations to propose a project based on the grand theme. Proposer organizations work with Keio University early on to define the project and define project requirements. At the end of the 6 months, the final deliverable is an in-depth analysis and recommendations on the problem, based on the latest insights developed at participating universities. By proposing an ALPS project, proposer organizations can encounter fresh, innovative ideas by the mixed student body of multinational/ cultural/professional backgrounds and experience sophisticated system design methods.