About the CDR

The Center is focused on interdisciplinary collaboration in the research and development of consumer products and services. As a working laboratory, it will unite KU students and faculty from diverse disciplines to design imaginative – yet practical – solutions to complex problems.

The CDR would benefit KU and local/national communities by developing new knowledge to advance design as a tool for strategic innovation, process improvement and customer satisfaction. Modern theory-based methodologies guide team discovery and focus the efforts of designers, engineers, scientists and business professionals in creating innovative products/services, technologies and consumer experiences.

The concept of an interdisciplinary “center” is based on existing benchmark programs at peer institutions. The difference between KU and others being that KU now has a stand alone “mini-campus” devoted to these projects and research. The “Integrated Innovation” at CDR would also aspire to target large national centers (e.g. DOE, DOT) as well as corporate entities such as Ford, Intel, Garmin and more. The CDR already has a successful list of industry-sponsored projects for: Herman Miller, Bushnell, Nokia, North Kansas City Hospital and more.

The Center for Design Research will address the need for development of a trans-disciplinary research center, focusing on the use of design and advanced technology in a collaborative environment across a wide range of creative and scholarly disciplines including mechanical and computer engineering, business, design, social sciences, biosciences, health care studies, and social sciences.

The CDR will be expanded to address its primary mission as “to foster and promote research and creative activity in the design and use of design and technological tools for innovation and advancement in the production, presentation, display and study of innovative work in science, communications, and the development of sustainable product innovation.” The CDR will seek to fill a void that will create products that are progressive, possible and profitable. At the same time, they must have a meaningful impact on the daily lives of ordinary people.

The Center of Design Research (CDR) at the University of Kansas is a new facility to promote interdisciplinary research and creative activity for faculty and graduate students. The CDR’s mission is to engage in the creation of an interoperable environment to visualize and evaluate; communicate and educate; and design and innovate. The CDR will produce multidisciplinary courses for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Kansas who are interested in energy efficient building design and small-scale energy technologies as well as development of smart technology devices, systems and applications.

The recently completed Center for Design Research at the University of Kansas implements sustainable strategies to maximize the potential of existing resources, to minimize environmental degradation, create an environment that is safe, comfortable and efficient. Through the implementation of sustainable clean energy systems, the building provides a space for professional collaboration and community education displaying a wide range of sustainable strategies. This will be one of the first buildings of its kind integrating this amount of connectivity. Because of its “proof of concept” status, numerous corporations and energy related companies such as Westar Energy, Schneider Electric (charging station), and GE (environmental monitoring system) have participated in the design of the facility. The CDR is a regional model for research in renewable energy, energy redeployment, sustainable building technologies and smart grid application. The CDR facility provides a unique opportunity to study and evaluate the building’s performance in use. It is a laboratory for energy exploration and deployment at the building scale. Most importantly, the sustainable aspects of the building are observable and interactive, as well as providing images and text to further illustrate sustainability; sustainable strategies will be shared with the University, City and State communities through the visibility of the project’s systems.


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