Design for America at UIUC

We aim to teach and practice equitable Human Centered Design methods that build a solid community culture and confident design thinkers who design creative and empathetic solutions for real-world problems.



Noun: A tight-knit group of students passionate about making a positive impact using the Human-Centered Design Process

Spring 2024 Application is CLOSED

We Always Welcome You to Apply Next Semester!

Fill Out The Interest Form for More Updates!

Interest Form

Fall 2023 Projects

Developing Independence as an Adult

• Tenant/Housing Rights
• Student Healthcare/Insurance
• Navigating Apartment/Dorm Life
• Personal Finance
• Cooking/Grocery Shopping
• Reducing Household Waste (food, electricity, water)

Champaign-Urbana Community

• Donation Initiatives during Move-Out Week Food Scarcity
• Farmer's Market Engagement/Artisan Fair
• LGBT Training & Education for Faculty/Community
• Emotional Education for Youth

Student Resource Education

• Underutilized Campus Resources
• LGBT Events and Programs
• Student Healthcare/Insurance
• Engagement with Local Businesses
• Campus/City Tours

Environmental Sustainability

• Food Waste (household or local businesses)
• Fast Fashion Education/Encouragement
• Development of Bee/Butterfly Gardens
• Education/Encouragement on Growing Local Fauna/Flora

Transportation on/off Campus

• Bussing 101 (Navigating the Bus System and Apps)
• Encouraging Bike Usage
• Accessibility

Our Vision
& Mission

 Who we are

Design for America is a nationwide network of student-led studios that aim to create products and solutions that solve real world problems using the Human-Centered Design process. Design for America at University of Illinois is a highly diverse, interdisciplinary RSO, welcoming students from all backgrounds and majors, in addition to consistently being one of the top performing DFA studios in the nation.

What we do

Tackling complex social challenges can be tricky. The Human-Centered Design process is here to help! We form teams of students from all backgrounds and majors in order to design products and solutions that solve real world problems. These projects all follow a guided design process with the ultimate goal of implementing the solution in the real world.

What is DFA?

To understand who we are and what we do, we must first understand what Human-Centered Design is! Design for America defines Human-Centered Design (HCD) as a process that “first focuses on the needs of real people, then builds and tests ideas with users, and ultimately disseminates implemented solutions to individuals and communities.” A similar definition can be found with one of our campus partners, the Siebel Center for Design. They define HCD as “an interdisciplinary, problem solving approach that identifies the unmet needs of a population in order to collaboratively and iteratively develop solutions.” 

With that being said, Design for America (DFA) is a nationwide network of student-led studios. These studios are nodes of community, HCD education, and localized impact within university campuses across the U.S. DFA Studios are dedicated to connecting interdisciplinary student teams, mentors, and local organizations together by using HCD frameworks to co-create better futures for their communities.

DFA at Illinois is a highly diverse and interdisciplinary registered student organization and non-profit at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. We welcome students from all backgrounds and majors to form student teams that will be taught the HCD Process to then employ it in the design of solutions that will solve real social problems in the Urbana-Champaign community. Below, you will find a timeline of what a typical school year looks like for DFA at Illinois!