Hi! My name is Cas Verploegen.
In this portfolio I showcase myself and my development during my Bachelor Industrial Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
I see myself as the link between design and complex technology. I am proficient in applying design processes in my projects and my goal is to come up with original and meaningful concepts, that can be developed into valuable products and services. Due to my technological skills, like programming and electronics, I am able to see better what is possible and how realization might go. I like to work on fast-paced projects that try to deliver as much value as possible to the user. The ultimate goal of designing to me is to satisfy users to the highest extent and to exceed their expectations.
My most important characteristics are fast-learning, opportunity seeking and eye for detail. If I come across something that interests me, I want to know everything about it and become an expert in the field. Next to that, I am always looking for opportunities while designing and in my own everyday life. If an activity can be optimized or automated, I try to do this as much as possible. Furthermore, I have a very strong eye for detail, which enables me to deliver high quality work. Designing is about finding and exploring opportunities.
Designing is all about finding the right opportunities in the area you are working in, at the right time. Technology is a large part of the everyday life, and therefore I am really interested in it. I think it is one of the biggest complements to design, which can be exploited in various new areas and products. One of these technological developments is machine learning, which I am really involved in lately. Machine learning opens up a lot of new opportunities that where not possible before, it completely changed the way products may be used and how they are designed and programmed.
I want to use cutting-edge technologies like machine learning in design to create new and original products or services. One of the ways to achieve this is to practice data driven design. Due to my skills in programming and design I am outstanding and I can achieve more valuable results. The goal of the use of such technology should be to enhance and benefit the user in their everyday tasks. It can either improve the quality of life or free up time, so they have more time to spend on activities they enjoy.
During my bachelor, I took part in a couple of highly valuable activities. These activities contributed the most to my development as a designer and an individual. It also affected my vision on design, professional identity and the skillset I have. The most important activities are described here.
In the third year of my bachelor I decided to join a committee at Lucid. The one that was most appealing to me was the Difficult Things committee, which develops valuable software and hardware systems that are going to be used by students at our own faculty. For example, I worked on the Token Drink 2018, which is a very comprehensive interactive game played by lots of students at one event. Furthermore, I am working on creating a 3D print platform were ID students can share their 3D printers to make rapid prototyping available for everyone. The platform will be launched in the beginning of next year. From being part of the committee, I mostly improved my teamwork and communication skills and my ability to execute projects in the programming field.
The design courses within the major made me the designer I am today. Centered around users, I bring technological products to life. These products should be available to the masses and be designed to be life-improving. The design processes that are used within projects can really shape the outcome of a project. For example, the iterative design process with involvement of users in every loop works very well for me. I tend to work best when trying to finish a product on a self-imposed deadline, and then iterating over it afterwards multiple times. The courses that were most valuable to me were From Idea to Design, User-Centred Design, Aesthetics of Interaction and the four projects throughout the bachelor.
In my B3.1 I decided to follow five electives at the Computer Science department. There were two reasons for this, namely exploring whether Computer Science is a suitable master program for me and getting more proficient in the field. I wanted to focus on developing my data handling skills, for which I followed the courses Datamodelling & Databases and Information Security Basics.
After completing all the electives, I was certain about going in this direction for the master program. I liked that I was now able to develop way more parts of the intelligent products I design and I enjoyed working in this field very much.
The Workflow Coach is a tangible tool that advises the user on time management through interactive lighting and pattern recognition. It visualizes the amount of time the user still has to work and shows when a break is advised. These work and break cycles are based on a technique called personal timeboxing, which is also used in the Pomodoro Technique. The device will also suggest how long breaks should last. The user can give feedback to the device by turning the knob, this will either increase or decrease the time that is left for the current cycle. Due to the fact that the user will be consciously thinking about the time they are working and taking breaks, they hopefully get a more satisfying and efficient workflow. The device will also try to recognize patterns in the workflow of the user and will improve over time to match the personal workflow better.
The paper I have written about this device can be downloaded here.
Before I started studying Industrial Design, the process of a project was most of the time linear and quite superficial. From the design courses I took and the projects I did, I was taught to look at it differently, namely through the iterative process. During the bachelor I spent time on perfecting this process, and I can now state that I applied it very effectively in my FBP. The different cycles and paths I chose were all contributing to the final outcome of the project and were very useful for getting through the project on my own.
In my final bachelor project, I applied self-directed learning in almost every step along the way. In-the-moment learning was really important, since I had to perform all aspects of my project alone. From past activities, I learned to plan very well and to ask for help when needed. When I had trouble with the electronics of the prototype I was working on, I reached out to two experts in the electrical engineering field to help me out. This was a really valuable thing to do, since it helped me to perfect my prototype and save a lot of time that I could now spend on other important tasks.
The several PDP’s I have written during my bachelor have really helped me to find the right balance between setting realistic goals and setting ambitious goals. The latest PDP I wrote for my B3.2 can be downloaded here. I also discovered the value of doing extra-curricular activities during my bachelor and spent a lot of free time on learning extra things and doing cool projects on the side. A lot of the skills I now have, are learned in these kind of projects.
The skill in teamwork and communication was something I really needed to spend time on in the beginning of the bachelor. I was always a bit shy and could come across a bit silent in meetings. I tried to work on this in the several group projects and courses I was part of, and I think the growth in this area is huge. I practiced my skill by doing, I took on leader roles in group projects for example. One of the recent projects I guided is the 3D print platform that is being built and will be launched in the beginning of next year. I communicate very well with the team members and try to make them actively engaged in group meetings.
From the FBP, I also learned a valuable lesson in this area. By doing the project alone, I realized (even more than normal) that a good team is the key to good outcomes in a project. Therefore, I would like to work in multidisciplinary teams with skilful people in the future. Having experts in different fields can really bring a project to the next level.
In my FBP, I focussed a lot on this area of expertise. In the beginning of the project I started with an interview to get to know the ins and outs of how the average student works and studies. From this, a lasting relationship grow, that I could use during my entire project. I had several meetings and casual tasks about the project with fellow students, which were also the target group of my project. In the end of the project, I conducted two user tests, one qualitative and one quantitative. The setup of these studies was mostly based on previous experience with user tests and literature. Both studies were conducted with finding objective results in my head and were valuable for the outcome of my project.
Technology & realization was another major part of my project. Mainly in the second quartile, I build interactive prototypes that were made with electronics and programming. As I ordered more and more parts and the project grew bigger, a maintainable code base was important. Therefore, I decided to design my Arduino program Object-Oriented. Through doing this, I learned a lot about the concepts of programming and how to create scalable projects in software. Furthermore, I worked with components that are mostly used for internet of things purposes, which is a really interesting design field as well. The device was connected to the internet through Wi-Fi and real-time data could be extracted from the prototype. This made the user tests a lot easier and more efficient, as I could ask questions about the usage data of the prototype and verify assumption through them.
I also worked with 3D printing with two different materials for the first time. I went to the rapid prototyping lab to get information about how this can be done and what the best practices are. I learned a lot from this experience and will probably use the 3D modelling and 3D printing skills as both presentation and realization skills.
Although the project was not really about getting a product to the market, I designed my product with business in my mind. It had to be cheap to produce, portable and valuable enough to buy. The focus was mainly on making the intelligent product useful for the user. Because of the underrepresentation of business in the project, I decided to do an elective on the side called Setting up your Business. It really helped me get insights in how start-ups work and how you can get your product or service to the market. It also improved my ability to perform for important stakeholders of a project, which I had not really done elsewhere before. The pitches I gave were made easy to understand for everyone that was not that involved in the project, and yet focussed on getting across why this product is valuable and is designed in this way.
For the prototype I mentioned earlier, a form exploration was done. The device should have a rich interaction associated with it, therefore a round design was chosen. It is aesthetically appealing and invites the user to turn the round knob on the device, which was one of the main functionalities of the product. The creativity processes were also a big part of mainly the beginning of the project. I set the domain as ‘productivity in the office setting’ and quickly gathered lots of interesting ideas. These ideas were further explored by using brainstorming and mind mapping techniques. The ideas were formed into three main concepts, that were then evaluated and designed further. The Workflow Coach came out as the best opportunity for my project and therefore I decided to continue the project with that concept.
The expertise area of Math, data & computing was largely advanced in my bachelor as well as in my FBP. In my bachelor I followed several basic courses that are part of this area, like Calculus, Physics and Modelling. Other courses that were valuable are Making sense of sensors and Datamodelling and databases. In my FBP, I used the gained knowledge to my advantage. A pattern recognition algorithm was designed and performed, which added machine learning to my prototype. Furthermore, a quantitative user test was performed, which asked for statistical analysis of the obtained data. From the prototype, user data was extracted and analysed as well. This was partly done with the pattern recognition algorithm that was mentioned before and by visualizing the data in graphs. Interesting patterns were found, with whom I was able to draw conclusions and confirm made assumptions in the beginning of the project.
After I graduate from my bachelor, I will focus on getting my master degree. The choice of my master program was based on the electives I did at the Computer Science department and the extra-curricular activities I did. For example, I did web development both for clients and for personal use and the activities I took part in for the Difficult Things committee were also really useful. I organized an HTML workshop for first year ID students and worked on several other interesting and informative projects.
The master program I am applying for is Computer Science, more specifically the web development track. Before I can start, I have to complete a pre-master in the upcoming year. Next to that, I will start a job in the programming field, to get some practical knowledge and practice from the field itself. After I graduate from my master program, I hope to land an interesting job at a startup near Eindhoven. The startup experience seems really appealing to me, since you get lots of freedom in your work and can take on high responsibility. One day, I might start my own company that produces intelligent products or that provides SaaS; Software as a Service.