MUart 452 Senior Projects 2014

Each spring I work with the seniors to develop their senior thesis projects and exhibitions. The 2014 thesis theme was Design for the Social Good. I asked each student to 1) define a specific problem in our society and then 2) attempt to solve that problem through design. Each student could work with an existing organization for this project or identify a panel of experts to consult in regard to their chosen topic.

—Early in the semester each student developed three different approaches/prototypes for solving his/her chosen problem.

—The three prototypes were then presented to a midterm critic Elizabeth Gilmore, a designer at Facebook, for feedback.

—Based upon the resulting feedback, each student selected one approach to build out for the remaining portion of the semester. Final projects were presented to an outside critic, Mike Weikert, Graduate Director of the MA in Social Design at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

—Completed projects were then shared with the public through a thesis exhibition at Miami.


Student Thesis Projects 2014


Andrea Fiegel: Wee Spy

Design Problem: Over 50% of calls to poison centers involve children under the age of five who consume products that look, smell or taste good.  As medications become more common in American homes, exposure to prescription and nonprescription drugs are on the rise.

Target Audience: I am targeting parents with children (5 and younger). Poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries. This solution should also encourage parents to educate their children about poison to keep their household safe.

Solution: A customizable app that teaches children the difference between poisonous and harmless items. Parents upload photos and the child will choose if the item is healthy or poisonous. Audio and animation are included to add user experience.

App Prototype



Design Problem: Many young adults do not fully understand the dangers of processed, chemically modified food and are unable to identify convenient healthy food choices.

Target Audience: Young adults, specifically ages 20-25

Design Solution: Fresh Over Frozen is an iPad application that provides healthy, single-serving alternatives to the name brand frozen meals. Not only does the app provide a solution and alternative to the chemically modified frozen foods, but it also educates the users on the dangerous ingredients, specifically the “Scary Seven” that includes High Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, preservatives, trans-fat, and artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. Through development of an icon system, the app also informs the user what parts of their body these ingredients are a hazard to, as well how shows the user the rewarding benefits of choosing the fresh ingredients. This application is meant to show to rewards of choosing fresh by showing what the user is avoiding in the process as well. Fresh Over Frozen not only provides a simple, meaningful solution, but also informs the users of both the dangers and benefits of fresh and frozen ingredients in an easy, rewarding way.




Austin Li: Fribe
Design Problem: Newly graduated college students who plan on moving to New York City find it particularly difficult to find the communities they belong to. This exists both on a physical and an emotional level interdependently due to the cultural differences, high living costs and lack of connections.
Target Audience: College students from outside of New York City who plan to move to NYC after graduation.
Solution: Fribe is a platform that allows people from outside of NYC to connect with people who share the same taste or lifestyle. Potentially, according to the Fribes that one joins, he or she will be able to find a suitable place to live in NYC. This solves the problem on a physical level. Because they don’t have as many connections and resources,it becomes rather difficult to locate a suitable place for them to live. This leads to a sense of loneliness which is the emotional level of this existing problem. Through syncing the music library or analyzing one’s answers to the questions, Fribe suggests groups of people who might share the same taste and lifestyle for the user, and helps the user locate apartments based on check-ins.
Fribe prototype


Colleen Griffiths: Note to Health
Design Problem: The recent expansion of Medicaid and implementation of the Affordable Care Act have created uncertainty for Oxford Free Clinic patients. In fact, only 12 out of nearly 300 qualified patients have successfully signed up for Medicaid.
Target Audience: Uninsured patients at Oxford Free Clinic
Design Solution: Note to health equips patients with tools and information to successfully manage their healthcare needs. Infographic booklets discuss preventative care benefits and encourage patient enrollment in a qualified program. Additionally, participatory advice coasters, an animated video, and appointment-reminder postcards empower patients to share stories and to support one another in a collaborative effort to achieve better health.
Note to Health Video


Ellyn Bordoshuk: Spectrum: A new way to journal online

Design Problem: Adults in their twenties who relocate to new cities often have trouble becoming familiar with their surroundings and adapting to their new environment, which can lead to many physical and mental health problems.

Target Audience: Adults in their twenties (most mobile, technologically savvy, and depressed generation ever).

Solution: Design an app that serves as an outlet for personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Help new residents focus on understanding how their minds work and equip them to make choices that will improve their overall mood, thus increasing their ability to adapt.

App Prototype



Jane Manchester: Your Perfect Body
Problem and Target Audience: Women, particularly women in their early twenties, have negative perceptions of their bodies and self worth as a direct result of the media and advertising they experience on a daily basis.
Project Objectives: Change the way women define their self worth Reach the challenge’s broad target audience in an effective and genuine way Succeed in creating a cohesive solution that also effectively encourages individuality Find the best way to reach women who have negative perceptions of themselves and their bodies already ingrained in their heads
Design Solution: Create a hub for women to redefine what it means to have the “perfect body.” Encourage participation, use content generated by users and social media to further spread the message.
Your Perfect Body website


Maria Bee: UnlockNew Worlds at Your Library!

Design Problem: Clermont County libraries have valuable programs and resources to encourage early literacy development, but struggles to establish a lasting relationship with families who don’t already include library visits in their lifestyle.

Target Audience: Primary—Children, preschool–first grade (ages 3–6); Secondary—Parents and caretakers of these children (The targeted community is largely low-income and rural, with limited access to technology.)

Solution: The Unlock New Worlds program reimagines the library card as a special key that is a delight and privilege for a child to use. Through a simple reward system, children are motivated to visit regularly and participate in events. Collectible BooKey characters add playfulness to the library experience and express the possibilities that literacy unlocks.



Nick Peltz: Thrive
Design Problem: RA’s at Miami struggle to connect with freshman who feel lonely and unconnected and are at risk of dropping out.
Design Solution: Thrive creates a digital platform for RA’s to connect better with students. The app helps create a digital space that students can interact with their resident advisors.  Thrive Affirmations will be sent to students through Thrive Mail, now solely directed to RAs to better connect with residents. Students should be encouraged to recite them everyday for four weeks as this repetition has been demonstrated to increase positive feelings. The affirmations can be used to promote the Thrive App and encourage residents to download it. The ultimate goal is to ensure that students throughout the dorm never feel unconnected and have these positive affirmations to remind them to keep going, to keep their chins up and to Thrive on.
Thrive App Prototype 

Kaleigh Pawar: DesignEd
Design Problem: High school students are not educated about the power and possibilities of graphic design in school; and high school art teachers do not have enough knowledge about graphic design to educate their students about the power and possibilities.
Target Audience: The primary target audience is creative high school students. The secondary target audience is high school art teachers.
Design Solution: DesignEd is a campaign aimed at educating and engaging the public in graphic design. And more specifically, it is directed at high school students (potential graphic designers). Graphic design is everywhere and a large portion of the public is unaware. DesignEd’s purpose is to engage and educate high school students about the power and possibilities of graphic design.

Sam Childs:  wysiwip (what you see is  work in progress)
Design Problem: Geographic isolation of graphic design majors in Oxford restricts perspective, and thus restricts potential for more creativity.
Design Solution: wysiwip is a web-based application that combines traditional critiquing techniques with the virility of social media. This website networks higher education level creatives from around the globe to provide concise but beautifully informative feedback. One of wysiwip’s driving mechanics is it’s random WIP pairing system. This feature takes you to a recently uploaded, randomly selected WIP for quick “crowd-sourced” critiques.
Traditional comments (standard text based comments like ones seen on DeviantArt, Behance, and facebook) are nowhere to be found in wysiwip’s critique system. The two key features of wysiwip’s critique system are its direct-draw and location-specific comments. Direct-draw enables users to markup submissions as if they had a pen. Location-specific utilities a drag and drop pointer that reveals a text-based comment.

Erik Seyferth: Rheinstein Magazine
Problem: The craft brewing industry in Cincinnati has never recovered from prohibition. Most Cincinnatians are unaware of this rich heritage, which made Cincinnati one of the largest industrial cities in the USA once upon a time. While craft breweries are on the rise, most aren’t calling attention to, or recognizing the city’s history.
Target Audience: My target audience will be adults, both male and female, aged 20-40 who may have missed the prime of Cincinnati’s brewing heritage and are passionate about the city. Experienced and inexperienced home brewers are also a main target, as the desire is for new brewers to enter and contribute to the Cincinnati brewing scene.
Final Solution: The final approach to this problem consists of a quarterly magazine publication focusing on the revival of the craft brewing industry in Cincinnati. Major focuses of this publication include history and roots of the city’s industry, current happenings within the industry, and techniques and tips for home brewers who brew for hobby, or are hoping to make an impact in the industry. One major objective is to create synergy between the target audience and Cincinnati breweries that are on the rise. This is executed with tactics in the magazine such as beer/brewery maps and featured, behind the scenes looks at these breweries.

Aaron Retter: Spot Me
Design Problem: College students working out do not use the proper form for weight lifting exercises. This results in serious injury, and mainly because they are unaware.
Target Audience: The target audience of this problem are college students who work out on a regular basis.
Solution: Spot Me is an ipad app that provides visual understanding and instructions on how to lift weights with proper technique to prevent injury. The app is broken down into the 3 most common lifts done at the gym, which are the three most common lifts that cause injury, and they are: bench pressing, dead lifting and squatting. Spot me, combined with other design elements becomes more than just an app, but an entire first hand learning experience. Design elements that tie to this include signage, vinyl floor decals and informational takeaways.

Jake Brennan: Bossanova: Social Music Videos.
Design Problem: The thought of learning about, or participating in music making is intimidating. substantial time commitments, live performances, and embarrassment are some of the expectations that ultimately deter people from learning about music. I seek to find a way to make music more accessible and less intimidating to people who are interested in learning more about music.
Target Audience: High school and college aged students, as well as young professionals, who lack the time or initiative to take music lessons.
Design Solution: Create a social music making site designed to minimize time commitment and embarrassment by asking people to cover very short snippets of popular songs before combining them into one final cover of the whole song, featuring many users. Bossanova keeps the song clips short, in hopes that recording these “micro-covers” will help users overcome the misconception that music making requires a substantial time commitment.  In Addition; Bossanova, gives the user a lot of control over the outcome of his/her video, and can help them overcome any fears of embarrassment, as well as encourage them to make the best video possible. An air of competition is an integral part of the site, by giving users the ability to choose which videos appear on the “favorites reel”, you give them a reason to be proud of their work, or to try harder on their next video.