At a time of unprecedented global challenges, the under-30 “millennial” generation has every reason to be fatalistic and disengaged. Yet in fields ranging from public health to education, plenty of millennials are engaged. Call it the empathy revolution. Extreme By Design brings this revolution vividly to life by capturing the experience of 40 students from Stanford University’s Institute of Design (aka the d.school) as they create products that may save thousands of lives in Bangladesh, Indonesia and other developing countries they visit as part of a class called Design for Extreme Affordability.
The students apply the “Design Thinking” approach, tapping previously undiscovered creativity and draw on methods from engineering and industrial design, and combine them with ideas from the arts, tools from the social sciences, and insights from the business world. Believing that they can and will make a difference, the students open their hearts and brains and remarkably, almost magically, their products take shape and work.
The film follows one principal student from each of three teams. The physical, mental and emotional challenges each participant faces create a compelling narrative and teach them important lessons along the way. The narrative begins on the first day of the class and ends eight months later with one group of students returning to Asia to test their device in the field amid plans to launch a startup.