Teaching systemic design for sustainability in engineering by building eco skis

DS 87-1 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 1: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Luthe, Tobias; Lumpe, Thomas; Schwarz, Jonas; Schütz, Martin; Shea, Kristina
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: ETH Zurich, Switzerland; 2: Grown Outdoor Creativity Lab, Switzerland; 3: University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur, Switzerland
Section: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies
Page(s): 189-198
ISBN: 978-1-904670-89-6
ISSN: 2220-4342


Resource limitations are drivers for engaging in sustainability. Systemic design approaches to address complex sustainability challenges need to be implemented more in education curricula, especially in design and engineering programs. Innovative and adequate didactic concepts should be effective in the long-term learning outcomes, and motivate students to engage in systemic design thinking and practice. The main objective of this paper is to deliver and evaluate an innovative format for teaching systemic design in an engineering program at the ETH Zurich, that is effective both in direct learning outcomes and long-term motivation to embrace and apply its theory and practice. We evaluate the effectiveness of the course with self-reflective material and process matrices, and with a final questionnaire. The combination of lectures and a ski-building workshop led to highly engaged and motivated students who experienced simplifications to complexity and trustable, aesthetic eco-design solutions to incorporate in their skis. The majority wished to study further in systemic design and to apply such practice more in their engineering design work.

Keywords: Complexity, Ecodesign, Human behaviour in design, Sustainability, Circular economy


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