Prospective Students

Extreme 2021

The Extreme Teaching Team is planning to offer a program for the 2020/21 academic year. However, we anticipate that there will be some changes from previous years.

More Details on Extreme 2021

The information on this page is the best and latest we have on what to expect for Extreme 2021, but is all subject to change.

Zoom Info Sessions
Our Zoom info sessions have passed, but the slides from the info session are available at the bottom of this page.
The video presentation shown during the info sessions is here.

Student Application
We intend to run a virtual version of our student admission process similar to previous years. The application is now available.

Our application closed on 10/11, but due to the difficulty of the year, and the many changes in schedules and deadlines across the University, we will hold the application submission form open until Saturday, November 7th at 11:59pm (note it is now closed). Priority will go to first round applicants, but we want to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to apply.

Our planned schedule for applications to the 2020/21 class is as follows:

  • Mid September: Written application available
  • Sept. 28- Oct. 3: Zoom info sessions
  • October 11: Written application submission deadline
  • October 26-29: Virtual events with first round applicants
  • November 6: Places offered to be part of the 2021 class for first round applicants
  • November 7: Second round application deadline
  • November 10-13: Virtual events with second round applicants
  • November 16: Places offered to be part of the 2021 class for second round applicants
  • By Thanksgiving: All class places confirmed
  • 2nd Week of Jan: Classes start

While we recognize that each student’s circumstances will be fluctuating during the fall quarter, we request that students do not apply unless they are intending to take the class, and do not accept a place and then drop, as this makes it very difficult provide a place to a fellow student who would want to accept it.

If you would like to receive an email when the information on this page is updated or get the Zoom info session links, please register on our student interest form.

*****The application is closed. Please contact us at extreme@dschool.stanford.edu if you missed the deadline and wanted to apply*****

Partnerships and Projects
For the last couple of years we have been considering how we might execute Extreme projects closer to home. With a suspension on any international travel on behalf of Stanford, and the difficulties of establishing partner rapport and end user empathy over long distances, now seems like the moment to look for local (i.e. Bay Area) partners who are combating poverty and might be able to benefit from our efforts. We are currently exploring local partnerships and evaluating whether we can identify suitable challenge spaces for student teams to execute. There is still a possibility that we will have some international projects, but there will be no possibility for students to travel to these locations. We are hopeful that there may be some opportunity to meet partners and end users in person, in a safe and socially distanced way, if we find partners local to the Stanford campus.

International Travel
As mentioned above, there will not be any possibility for international travel throughout the 2020/21 academic year.

Teaching Environment
We are planning for Winter Quarter at least to be taught completely virtually. If circumstances improve and in-person hybrid classes are possible, then we will try to take advantage of the situation. The outlook for Spring Quarter is unclear, but again we will take whatever advantage we can of any opportunity to have classes and teams meet in person.

Design Studio at the d.school
It is unclear at the moment what room access and availability will be offered by the d.school. If we do have the option to set up a design lab at the d.school, and have some version of occupancy, we will do so to enhance the team experience.

Class Schedule
We intend to hold classes on our usual days, Monday and Wednesday mornings, and Thursday evenings. We will observe regular holidays with no class.

Live, synchronous attendance for all students at every class is required. As always, you will need to commit to both Winter (ME206a or OIT333) and Spring (ME206b or OIT334).

Course Content
Our experience producing Spring Quarter 2020 virtually has shown us that most aspects of our program, including remote research and physical prototyping, can be achieved in a virtual environment. Indeed, skills such as remote research are becoming increasingly prevalent and important in our space. We are expecting to provide a full curriculum including all stages of the innovation cycle, design process, and associated business modeling, tailored to our environment and our projects.

Social E Lab and Design Lab
Due to budget cuts, we currently do not have the capacity to offer the summer Social E Lab program or the follow-on Extreme Design Lab program in 2021. We are looking at what can be done to address this, and may be in a position to offer a limited or slimmed-down version of these phases of the program

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Version 2.0, last updated 10.6.20

What Past Students Say

This was my first exposure to the d.school process, and never before in my education have I had such open-­ended prompts and deliverables and such encouragement to be creative! The most appropriate summary is what Prof. Beach said to me when I first asked him about Extreme, “Extreme will change your life.”  You could say I’ve drunk the Kool-­Aid.

Annie Scalmanini Earth Systems, Extreme 2012

I came into Extreme with really high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed. It is a real gem of a learning experience, one that goes a long way towards validating my b-school expenses, since it’s precisely the kind of work I’d like to do long-term. Knowing just how many hours I haven’t slept for this class, I would still do it again next year if I could.

Ryan Takasugi Graduate School of Business

Extreme will be a class that I talk about for the rest of my life, and will undoubtedly influence my future career choices, management style and approach to problem solving.

Kylan Lundeen Business, Extreme 2012

It has been extremely gratifying to contribute to improving critical medical systems for some of India’s poorest patients, even as these interactions have permanently altered my perspective on a doctor’s role in society. Extreme is perhaps the most important class I have taken in over a decade of medical training – and I am certainly a better physician for it.

Dr. Dhruv Kazi Medicine, Extreme 2012

Is Extreme right for you?

These are the characteristics of an ideal student. We consider these traits to be critical because of their impact on your personal experience, your teammates' experience, and the impact of your project on the communities we serve.

Who are extremes?
  • TEAM PLAYER: you realize that personal success is tied to team success
  • COMMITTED TO THE COURSE: you will make Extreme your #1 priority for Winter and Spring quarters
  • PASSIONATE: you have a passionate soul, even if it’s not yet dedicated to a specific topic
  • RESOURCEFUL: you are inspired - not discouraged - by constraints & scarcity of resources
  • WANT EXPERIENCE, NOT JUST CLASS: you are seeking a deep personal experience and growth, not just units, a grade, or a résumé item
  • ROOKIE/VETERAN MIX: we are seeking a healthy balance of students who have experience with content & process and those who don’t
  • COLLABORATIVE: you look forward to sharing creative experiences with others
  • SELF AWARE & HUMBLE: you recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as how you project them
  • WILLING TO TRY OUR APPROACH: you are open to learning and practicing our d.process, regardless of pre-existing knowledge and experience
  • COOL UNDER PRESSURE: you can channel stress and emotions toward focus and progress
  • DRIVING DESIRE TO IMPLEMENT: you are determined to make your project a reality
  • INTROVERT/EXTROVERT MIX: we are seeking a healthy balance of personalities
What happens before the Extreme course?

Every fall, we receive applications for the upcoming Extreme class. We receive around 100 applications for 40 slots. Applicants are selected based on their passion for the class, proclivity to make things and prior experience in addition to their discipline. A typical Extreme class is 25% business students, 25% engineering students and 50% from other programs as wide ranging as Medicine, Education, International Policy, and Earth Systems. Because we know the mix of projects provided by our partners, we may try to attract more students from specific departments to work on those projects. For example, if we have a project involving architecture, we will look to admit several students with architecture backgrounds.

Winter Quarter

Winter quarter of the course immerses students in the fundamentals of design thinking. Topics include need finding, user empathy, rapid prototyping and iteration, and collaborative dynamics. Students learn the design process experientially, as they are coached through a number of fast-paced design projects, culminating in a real-world project with local partners. In parallel with these projects, the course gives students a background on design for the developing world, including economic, technological, and cultural considerations.

Spring Break

Over spring break, student representatives from each team travel to the project sites. While there, they explore the needs of their customers and make arrangements with their partners to collaborate over the spring quarter. Teams gain empathy with all stakeholders in order to develop solutions that fit into the culture, aspirations, and constraints of their target customers.

Spring Quarter

During Spring Quarter, teams will iterate on their designs and business models through a rapid sequence of prototypes, user tests, and design reviews. In parallel, students interact with experts and entrepreneurs who have launched ventures in the developing world, including several class alumni.

The final deliverable is a product or service framed in a comprehensive implementation plan including the business model, the technical innovations, the cultural rationale, and the appropriate next steps. The course culminates in a professional presentation to the partners and a panel of industry experts.

Miraclebrace in action

What happens after the Extreme course?

Although there is no requirement to continue the projects after Spring Quarter, many students choose to push the projects forward beyond the class. This can take a variety of forms.

Funding and space for additional research and prototyping through the summer following the course is available through Social E Labs. Some students visit their partners over the summer, where they help implement the ideas. This can involve transferring their ideas and methodology to their partners, testing their final ideas more thoroughly with customers, or helping their partners set up a functioning manufacturing unit.

Should the students wish to continue further development and prototyping after Social E Labs, additional support during the following academic year is available through the Design Lab. Sometimes students decide that the best way to implement their ideas is to form their own organization. Several for-profit and not-for-profit organizations have launched out of the class to carry their ideas through to implementation.

We are committed to helping students pursue their passions. A large, informal community of designers, industry experts, investors, legal counselors, and advocates has formed around the class, and has proved invaluable in helping students push their projects toward final implementation.

Applying to Extreme

Our application for winter/spring 2021 will be coming soon. To get updates about the 2021 application and course, please sign up here.