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Norman Design Fund

The Norman Design Fund is made possible by an annual charitable donation from Don and Julie Norman.

The Norman Design Fund provides small, rapid allocations of funds to support student activities in human-centered design (HCD). The goal of the fund is to enhance and encourage human-centered design work by UC San Diego students.

Applications are open to ALL students at UC San Diego, with priority given to students as follows:

  1. UCSD undergraduates taking design classes
  2. UCSD graduate students without access to any funded project support
  3. All other UCSD undergraduate and graduate students

All proposals must contain a brief description of the procedures used for HCD, including observational studies and iterative prototype-test methods.  Straight engineering or art-based (styling) design projects will not be funded.

The funds may be used for human-centered design projects or for attendance at relevant design conferences. Conferences must have a reasonable focus on human-centered design to be considered. Funds may be used for travel, conference registration fees, and project costs.

Most grants are relatively small (up to $1,000).

How to Apply

Click here to complete the online application

Requests must be submitted at least one week prior to any expected expenditure. The Design Fund Committee typically responds within 1-2 weeks of submission.

Projects that do not fit the structure of the online application form are still acceptable as long as they fit the spirit of the fund, which is to enhance and encourage human-centered design work by UC San Diego students.  If you believe your proposal qualifies, please contact the Design Lab to arrange to talk with someone about it (at

Fund recipients must:

  1. Work with Design Lab Administrative Officer to determine how to pay for your expenses according to University policy.  When possible, UC San Diego will be directly charged, but you may need to spend personal funds and request reimbursement.
  2. Submit a short report (less than one page) about the project and the value received before any reimbursement will be given.
  3. Present your project or learnings (conference attendees) at a Design Lab Research meeting.
  4. Attribute a credit to the Norman Design Fund and the UC San Diego Design Lab on any project presentations or reports created.
  5. Spend the funds by the end of the UC San Diego fiscal year (June 30).  Any funds not spent by June 30 will be forfeited. The recipient may re-apply for funds during the following fiscal year.

For questions about the Norman Design Fund or the application process please email


Congratulations to the UCSD Design Lab Norman Design Fund recipients!

Alex Liebscher, Cognitive Science | Effects of Battle and Journey Metaphors on Charitable Donations for Cancer Patients | Read Alex Liebscher – Norman Design Fund Report

Ryan Lin, Computer Science and Engineering | Affordable Smart Wheelchair Project | Read Ryan Lin – Norman Design Fund Report

Shan Hannadige, Cognitive Science | Fi@UCSD | Read Shan Hannadige – Norman Design Fund Report

Evan Schmitz, Cognitive Science | Designing Family-Centered Aids for the Intensive Care Unit | Read Evan Schmitz – Norman Design Fund Report

Gabriel Zalles-Ballivian, Music | MEMS Ambisonic Mic Project, Music | Read Gabriel Zalles-Ballivian – Norman Design Fund Report

Danielle Zusman & Eric Richards, Cognitive Science | Design For America – Design Training | Read Eric Richards DFA – Norman Design Fund Report

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