Design Experiences Lab

Inspired, collaborative, innovative, and creative designs live at the Design Experience (DEX) Lab. Every feature of this space was implemented to encourage students and faculty to explore empathic, informed, and human-centered designs that address real-world problems.

Faculty Engagements in the 2017-2018 Academic Year

Student Engagements Annually

About the Lab

Studies of the future job market report that up to 85% of the jobs available in 2030 do not exist at this time. In order to contend with such a rapid pace of change, students’ critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and ability to learn in the moment are in crucial need of development. The DEX Lab, located in 109 Willard, is a learning space capable of delivering that development.

A discipline-agnostic space, The DEX Lab enhances and encourages students’ capability to explore entrepreneurship opportunities and work collaboratively to tackle challenging issues from around the world. Solutions are prototyped and stepped through several iterations before being implemented and addressed in the course.

The DEX Lab utilizes a number of unique features to drive innovation. They include:

    • Mobile furniture that can be tailored to create layouts that address specific needs
    • Low circular tables that encourage “lean-in” engagement
    • An anti-microbial floor that allows students to work directly on the surface
    • Mobile whiteboards that can be moved as needed, and rail-mounted whiteboards around the room
  • Whiteboard storage lockers that allow students to save their whiteboard work and return to it later
  • A large, interactive display equipped with Mersive Solstice wireless visual collaboration software
  • A180° camera connected to the display that allows for guest speakers and distance collaboration
  • Prototyping carts that feature numerous materials to create models and plans

“Design Thinking Basics” and “Rapid Design Challenge” are workshops hosted at the DEX lab to give departments, groups, or classes a hands-on introduction to the space. DEX Lab workshops are scheduled on an as-needed basis.

Design Thinking for Every Curriculum

Our goal is to inspire Penn State students and faculty to empathize with their target audiences and build informed, human-centered designs that address real-world problems.

More specifically, design thinking is a process that is used to solve real world problems by understanding how people think and feel. An example design challenge is, “What will get Penn State students to eat healthier?” From this prompt, the design thinking process begins by interviewing students and digging for their underlying needs and wants. Using an empathic interview, the collected data is taken and investigated for trends and insights. The next step is to brainstorm ideas followed by prototyping and testing those ideas in the real world. The final step is all about telling an impactful story of the findings to key constituents.

Teaching in the DEX Lab for two years has changed the way I teach, and the way students learn. The room design, furnishings and tools foster more dynamic and natural student-teacher and student-student interaction.

Anne Hoag

Associate Professor of Communications

Explore Other Learning Spaces Projects


Cutting-edge digital displays, interactive technologies, and moveable furniture join together in 101 Althouse Laboratory to create an experimental classroom where innovation and excellence meet.

Shared Experiences Lab

A unique learning space that enriches the classroom experience by connecting people through innovative technology.


There is a learning space at University Park designed specifically for 360° video creation and viewing as well as other immersive technology and experiences – the Immersive Experience (IMEX) Lab.

We are happy to talk with you about how to take advantage of the Dex Lab’s unique features.

Let’s Work Together