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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 2020 is currently closed. However, please check back with us next Fall to apply for winter/spring 2021!
Each year our course information sessions are held around campus in Oct. & Nov. The written application is due in early November, followed by an in-person semi-finalist event. We will post all dates and information sessions here in Fall 2020.