PhillyCHI – iSchool Panel: "The Role of Failure in Design"

Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Time: 6 – 8PM
Refreshments will be served from 6 – 6:30PM
Location: Bossone Center, Drexel University
31st & Market Streets Philadelphia, PA 19103

“In the case of a real design problem, even our conviction that there is such a thing as fit to be achieved is curiously flimsy and insubstantial. We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed, and a context which we cannot properly describe. The only reason that we have for thinking that there must be some kind of fit to be achieved between them is that we can detect incongruities, or negative instances of it. The incongruities in an ensemble are the primary data of experience.”

– Christopher Alexander, the originator of the concept of design patterns. ‘Notes on the Synthesis of Form’ (1964)

“Success and failure in design are intertwined. Though a focus on failure can lead to success, too great a reliance on successful precedents can lead to failure. Success is not simply the absence of failure; it also masks potential modes of failure. Emulating success may be efficacious in the short term, but such behavior invariably and surprisingly leads to failure itself.”

– Henry Petroski. ‘Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design’ (2006)

Please join PhillyCHI and the iSchool at Drexel University for a panel discussion on the different perspectives of how failure can inform design. The iSchool has gathered a panel of researchers and practitioners to discuss in theoretical and practical terms what and how we can learn from failure in the design process. The panel will begin with a brief introduction of the topic by the moderator, Dr. Michael Atwood. Panelists will then present brief statements relating their background and experience on the topic. The remainder of the session will be a moderated discussion among the panelists and the audience.


Michael Atwood, PhD
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs/Research, The iSchool at Drexel University

Dr. Atwood’s major teaching interests include human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, and artificial intelligence. His research focuses on human-computer interaction, supporting communication and collaboration among groups involved in system design activities, and on organizational memory. His professional experience includes research and development of interactive systems and expert systems, software engineering process improvement, software project management, and software product development.


Liza Potts, PhD
Director of Human Factors, Electronic Ink

As Director of Human Factors, a leadership role at Electronic Ink, Liza Potts heads up the team of cognitive psychologists, anthropologists, quantitative analysts, and user experience architects who are dedicated to bringing the understanding of target audiences to new levels. At Liza’s direction, leading-edge research is conducted at Electronic Ink’s Usability Lab at company headquarters, or on-site with the company’s Mobile Usability Lab. The lab’s technology includes state-of-the-art eye tracking equipment that pinpoints visual response to discover key findings that drive the functionality of custom applications for Electronic Ink’s clients.

Tom Hewett, PhD
Professor of Psychology and Professor of Computer Science, Drexel University

Tom’s teaching includes the Psychology of Human Computer Interaction Design and the Psychology of Problem Solving and Creativity. Tom is a published software author and has written on the use of computers in teaching. His current research focuses on understanding the computing support needs of expert knowledge workers.

Mathieu Turpault
Senior Designer, Bresslergroup

Mathieu has more than eleven years of experience in the field of industrial design and has won numerous awards including IDEAs, ID magazine and AM awards. Mathieu is currently client manager and lead industrial designer in addition to his role as production manager for Bresslergroup, an award winning product development consultancy, with a 35 year history of design excellence and long term client relationships.


The iSchool at Drexel University – empowering society by uniting people, technology, and knowledge through innovative education and research

Founded in 1892, the iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology educates students in information science and technology at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels and features Drexel University’s Cooperative Education program. The College is a founding member of the iSchools Caucus of 19 prominent schools dedicated to teaching and learning about information use and management.