Sophomore Seminars

Dare to Care: Compassionate Design

CHEMENG 90Q
Please note: There are two offerings of CHEMENG 90Q in Autumn Quarter. Be sure to review the class schedule for each section on the seminar page, in the right sidebar. Then, sign up for the section with your preferred class time at VCAIS.stanford.edu.

Imagine yourself with your abundant creativity, intellect, and passion, but your ability to move or speak is diminished. How would you face the world, how would you thrive at Stanford, how would you relay to people your ideas and creations? How would you share yourself and your ideas with the world?

There are 36 million individuals in America with at least one disability, and in the current world of design, these differences are often overlooked. How do we as designers empower people of diverse physical abilities and provide them with means of self-expression?

In Compassionate Design, students from any prospective major are invited to explore the engineering design process by examining the needs of persons with disabilities. Through invited guests, students will have the opportunity to directly engage people with different types of disabilities as a foundation to design products that address problems of motion and mobility, vision, speech and hearing. For example, in class, students will interview people who are deaf, blind, have cerebral palsy, or other disabling conditions. Students will then be asked, using the design tools they have been exposed to as part of the seminar, to create a particular component or device that enhances the quality of life for that user or users with similar limitations.

Presentation skills are taught and emphasized as students will convey their designs to the class and instructors. Students will complete this seminar with a compassionate view toward design for the disabled, they will acquire a set of design tools that they can use to empower themselves and others in whatever direction they choose to go, and they will have increased confidence and abilities in presenting in front of an audience.

Meet the Instructor(s)

John Moalli

“A few years ago, I met a young man named Zach who has cerebral palsy.  Like many people often do, I looked at Zach’s outward appearance and made erroneous assumptions about his intellect. As I worked with Zach and got to know him, I realized that he was brilliant and simply lacked a means of self-expression – there was no simple way for Zach to communicate his wisdom to us.  Zach and others like him inspired me to develop this class, Dare to Care, which aims to teach undergraduates from any department the basics of design. By teaching students about engineering design through the lens of assistive technologies for the differently abled, I hope to empower them to be compassionate designers, approach design and each other with empathy, and expand their horizons to more diverse audiences.

"Outside of the classroom, I am an avid aviator and enjoy most anything outdoors.”

John Moalli is an award-winning Adjunct Professor at Stanford. He enjoys public speaking, and has become well known for creating confident speakers from often shy students. Several of John's students have gone on to become Stanford Oral Communications Tutors.