I think DTR was the purest form of learning I encountered at Northwestern. I learned new mindsets and approaches to problems I had never considered before the class.
From DTR, I have learned whole-brain engineering, CS, HCI skills like design arguments, agile work, time management, abductive reasoning, conceptual thinking, mindfulness, research literature analysis, metacognitive analysis, qualitative and quantitative study design, abstract thinking, concrete reasoning, design approaches, user empathy, help seeking, risk assessment, thoughtful writing, self-reflection, and process thinking.
A lot of the students in DTR came in just looking to code and came out with a whole new approach to coding. We learned to not just build something and then find a problem that it resolves but instead to find real problems and figure out if we can come up with a solution. To truly understand who are the users, what are their issues, and what are the various solutions to their problem.
As a wide-eyed sophomore just trying to do as much coding as possible, DTR and more specifically Haoqi, pushed me to slow down, think about the “Why” and the hypothesis that I was trying to solve. Looking back on it, this may have been the most impactful point in both my career as a student, and career as an engineer. A lot of entrepreneurs and researchers just want to build things, but without asking the right questions first and slowing down, you could be working on things that aren’t useful at the end.
DTR taught me how to pursue my goals, question every assumption, and work to find comprehensive solutions to novel problems. It also taught me to manage my time, emotions, and workload.