Design Sprint (Spring 2018)

The Design for America studio at Rice is back in session for 2018! We kicked off the Spring semester with a design sprint hosted at the Liu Idea Lab, a new entrepreneurship and collaboration center on campus.

A design sprint walks through steps of the DFA design process (namely: Identify, Immerse, Reframe, Ideate, and Build), and participants are limited to just two hours to complete their work. The goal is to better grasp the design process in a short, intensive session. The sprint emphasizes function over beauty, iterating quickly, and translating your ideas into prototypes on a short deadline.

We were excited to see a great mix of both newcomers and experienced Design for America studio members –– it was a blast.

This design sprint was focused on the widespread issue of campus bike theft.

The event started off with the Identify stage. Teams identified potential users as undergraduate, graduate, and faculty members of Rice. Problem spaces included awareness and preventative measures, physical attachments to bikes, more widespread availability of bike racksand methods of finding stolen bikes.


After conducting thorough research regarding the problem space, teams came away with many excellent insights about bike safety. Here are a few:

  • Students often do not register bikes with RUPD (campus police) because it takes too much time, they don’t know how, they aren’t incentivized to do so, or they do not care to reach out to RUPD regarding registration details.
  • The idea of surveillance is a significant deterrent against bike theft.
  • Students would purchase locks if they were more convenient to obtain.
  • You cannot protect every valuable part of a bike with a single U-lock. It must be accompanied by a chain lock to prevent theft effectively.
  • Some students might not have enough time to lock their bikes, especially if locking the bike is a very involved process.
  • Bike thieves at Rice are likely not to be students or employees.
  • Only 2.4% of stolen bikes are recovered. It is either an impossible or tedious process, that is quickly considered “not worth it”. Proof of purchase is also necessary to recover the bike from the police.
  • Individuals often fail to lock their bikes because bike racks are over capacity.
  • Lack of publicity and awareness about the issue lead to the perception that bike theft is not a widespread issue.
  • Zipcodes 77004 and 77006 (close to Rice) are the regions of Houston most susceptible to bike theft.
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By the end of the sprint, many teams came away with well-developed solutions to move forwards with. These included:

  • Bike racks with built-in chain locks which use 3-digit combinations to unlock the bike. Racks would have infographics re: how to lock the bike
  • An RUPD liaison position within each college who acts as a resource for students to query about bike registration, assist those in need of help, educate on proper bike safety procedures, answer questions students may not feel comfortable talking to the police about directly, and serve as a link between the college’s student body and RUPD.
  • Increased capacity / availability of bike racks around campus.
  • Innovative stickers with QR codes / hyperlinks leading to a website which demonstrates bike theft statistics, and promotion of these stickers at Beer Bike.


We’re happy to share that both newcomers and DFA members really enjoyed the event. Here’s some feedback we received from participants:

“It was really great! Collaborative, interesting, and fun!”

“My overall experience at the DFA@Rice event was incredible. It only increased my desire to be a part of the organization.”

“WE LOVE DFA; did not know how much could be accomplished in two hours; cool learning about design process.”

The sprint was an incredible way to kick off the spring semester. We hope to see a full crowd at our first Studio session next weekend. Go DFA!

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