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New expectations of European labor markets regarding to the university graduates, especially concerning technical schools, lay the emphasis not on the number of diplomas but on the effectively educated competences of the graduate. Meeting these expectations, which is also the stage of Bologna strategy, can be achieved by changing the methods of teaching. Knowledge, skills and competences, there are three basic pillars in current system of education.

Hitherto, the main emphasis in higher education was put on the aspect of knowledge, often neglecting the areas related to skills and competences. These certainly could and should be strengthened and developed by offering students in their education path additional skills of creating innovative, customer-oriented solutions by working in interdisciplinary teams on the projects realized in cooperation with business.

Design Thinking methodology, as a method of creative development of innovative solutions, rapidly gained ground all over the world. Also in Europe institutions focused on education using this methodology are being formed. They are patterned on the world's first Design Institute named, which is a workplace of Design Thinking methodology, located at one of the best world’s universities, at Stanford University (USA).

Lodz University of Technology, taking advantage of the American experience, has started own original process of creating DT4U workspace and the implementation of Design Thinking methodology as a subject in the course of study. All this, in order to give its students one of the most innovative tools, which they will easily apply and use as graduates in their professional work. The team of DT4U focuses on training new unique practical skills by designing and introducing the implementation of Design Thinking (DT) methodology into existing education path. Within this process the following elements are realized:

  • the education program including DT methodology at I and II stage of studies;
  • making students more open to creative and innovative thinking formed by the DT process which is implemented in the project realization stages;
  • increasing the competences of academic stuff in the field of DT;
  • providing students with processes allowing supplementing or increasing the level of actual knowledge in effective thinking and team thinking as well as its verification and evaluation;
  • development of the infrastructural and tool facilities for the purpose of realizing education processes using DT methodology;
  • enhancement of the cooperation between business and industrial parties;
  • providing a spectrum of possible applications of the developed innovation in order to increase the attractiveness of conducted teaching forms and thereby breaking the existing stereotypes in this regard;
  • preparing professional teaching materials, helpful in academic stuff training as well as a handbook of good practice in teaching and learning using Design Thinking methodology.

Since academic year 2014/2015 Design Thinking has been an obligatory subject for students at the Lodz University of Technology. The methodology is being introduced to first year students of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the course in the Materials Engineering.

Dissemination of knowledge, concerning group problem solving techniques, using innovative methods of design thinking in the interdisciplinary teams is a condition of an effective establishment of the knowledge-based society. In this context, this is one of the main strategic objectives of the EU and national education policy. This need is also perceived by the EU, which points out the requirement of flexible and innovative methods of learning and teaching in order to improve the quality, in the document Modernization of Higher Education. The European Commission notes that "university graduates lack the skills that translate into increased innovation of companies." Allowing university graduates to gain practical experience based on innovative thinking will facilitate their integration into the labor market and increase the chance of employment, as well as induce to start their own businesses.

The above data show clearly that the implementation of DT methodology in the course of regular studies will provide the improvement of the education quality and ensure the adaptation of study programs to the needs and requirements of the European labor market. Basing on the economic achievements of other countries, that have successfully run similar education policy, it can be concluded that in the future this will translate into an increase in innovation in the economy of countries participating in the project.

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