Iterative design is a concept in many design & engineering fields that revolves around making product design a cyclic process, in which user feedback from prototypes directly feeds into new versions of these prototypes. When executed correctly, it results in products that fit the end user's needs better, whether it be through cost, functionality, and/or durability.
I first learned about it in a high school design & engineering class, through a popular incarnation of the "design thinking" philosophy popularized by the Stanford d.school (pictured to the right), which promotes an understanding of the end user's needs prior to embarking into product design. A more accurate version of this diagram, codifying iterating design into design thinking, includes an arrow spanning from the "test" component back to the "ideate" component, emphasizing how important it is for engineers to "go back to square one" after receiving feedback.
I enjoyed this process so much over the 2 years of the IB Diploma Programme that I made it the goal of my undergraduate experience to be as adept as possible at it. What I didn't realize at the time (but is crystal-clear with hindsight) is that I also applied an iterative design process to every other part of my life, including the personal, professional, and academic aspects alike.
This Honors Portfolio is divided into a 4x4 grid, with each space being clickable and leading to a page summarizing important artifacts from a single academic quarter. While the title of each webpage is simply the year and quarter being summarized, the subtitle of each page is the common aspect I tried to become better at through an iterative process.
Additionally, each artifact in every quarter is labeled with a common thread, one of six aspects I identified as having experienced iterations across all 4 years of my undergraduate experience and not limited to a single quarter:
subverted perspectives — Being a college student meant nothing was ever as it seemed and that the only constant was change itself.
interdisciplinary design — One of the biggest challenges I faced in my undergraduate journey was to figure out not only what I wanted to work on in my career, but *how* I could figure out whether I liked it or not, which took me on a designer’s journey meandering through multiple academic disciplines.
academic excellence — Going from a near-4.0 academic record in high school to an academically rigorous school was bound to test my patience and ability to bounce back from certain failures.
career track — As an engineering major, I felt a responsibility to balance my high-in-the-sky designer ambitions with lining up a job for after graduation, but I could never let that job be something I wasn’t wildly passionate about.
overcoming anxiety — Repeated and habitual adrenaline-fueled work sessions might have gotten me through high school, but they left a lasting impact on my mental health and would drag my well-being down (as well as my grades) if I did nothing to control them.
eating disorder — I’ve had a weird relationship with food for as long as I can remember, and possibly my biggest success in college is not only redefining my relationship with food but also overcoming my crippling self-doubt surrounding it.
The button below takes you back to the home page of my portfolio. As you look through it, choose your own adventure — if you want to read it again, iterate and see how the narrative changes.
After you try, what else is there to do except to try again?
Because I've collected quite a few "thanks" I owe over the last four years.
Nicole Peters — this Honors Portfolio idea turned into reality thanks to you
Папа — ты вселил в меня силу и стойкость, которые я никогда не отпущу
Мама - ты моя северная звезда
אנסטסיה - בלעדייך, לעולם לא אהיה יצירתית
Бабушка и Дедушка — вы шли, чтобы я мог бежать
Regan — thank you for being the big brother I never had
Mia, Valerie, Kaya, Katie, HuskyADAPT team — you redefined what engineering means to me
Anya, Joseph, Srividhya, Sweta, Dr. Eric Seibel, Dr. Adam Templeton — your patience with my energetic self (to put it mildly) leaves me with newfound confidence in my people skills
Matt, Steven, Stephen — thanks for giving this 21-year-old his first professional engineering experience and completely eliminating his impostor syndrome
Dr. Nathan Sniadecki — thank you for pushing me to be a better writer, researcher, and engineer
Dr. Molly Mollica — you didn't have to maintain your support after we stopped working together, yet you did, and that will always mean a lot to me
Dr. Lucas Meza — thank you for giving me the space to take ownership of my exploration of both classical mechanics and the limits of my own psyche
Dr. Daniel Ratner, Dei Caudle — thank you for teaching me how to advocate for myself
Dr. Per Reinhall — thank you for allowing me to try to redeem myself again... and again... and again... keeping me grounded in my pursuit of experiential learning
CC@E team — you provided clarity when I was at my most disordered
Kendra — you were instrumental in me becoming the only person graduating with a BSME in 2023 to complete Interdisciplinary Honors :)
Mark, Bekah, Aditya, Josh, Jeewon, Spencer — thank you for being the best "little bros" I could ask for
Teagan — you showed me there's a place in the world for those who see the world like we do
Uzair — thank you for listening when it felt like no one else would
Evan, Steph, Peter, Daniel P., Engineering Design Coaches — you made teaching fun
Blaze, Ibrahim, Eric, Aaron, Jimmy, Emily N., Finnley, Gavin, Jason — I wouldn't have my BSME without you
Dylan, Anthony — "breaking molds" at The Daily would have never been possible without you
Tejas, Rajbir, Dmitriy, Sahib, Esh, Nitant, Janick, Stefan, Shannon, Veronica, Cindy, Colin, Hadi, Thomas, Eric, Tim, Micheal, Sela, Hannah — endlessly thankful that you stuck around