A Global Shaper-Innovation Lead with the World Economic Forum, Honey has conducted design thinking workshops for many prestigious institutions. She believes that imagination, empathy, and intuitive leaps—combined with extensive research—are essential for innovation. Honey is focused on identifying the patterns that underlie the reality of human behavior, and then learning from reactions, probes, and prototypes to design affordable, user-centric products for social impact. After graduating from Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore, Honey became a member of the core team at Embrace Innovations that conceptualized and developed an innovative and low-cost infant warmer for premature and low-birth-weight babies in developing countries. “The motivation of building products and the rush of rapidly converting an idea into something tangible is incomparable,” she explains. Honey is also keen about translating her experiences into real solutions and drawing from the experiences of her IDM peers to deepen her understanding of the human-centered design approach. “The program is catalyzing my vision of creating a technology-based social enterprise and providing a holistic perspective on developing new ideas. I want to inspire new ways of solving user challenges.”
Anuj aims to be precisely the type of innovative leader that IDM envisions to develop. His undergrad education at Nanyang Technological University and his work experience in the tech and nonprofit sector has greatly influenced his perspectives about technology and design. As a technology consultant at Teach For India, he was building modules for improving operational efficiencies and applications for fostering enhanced collaboration between fellows, alumni, and staff. “Working with a leading nonprofit in India has instilled in me the value of giving back to the community,” he says. Anuj is passionate about the Internet, mobile devices, and vertically integrated experiences that can create absolute delight for users. As a co-founder of 99.co, he was responsible for designing and building the mobile experience for the startup. “I’m super excited about what the intersection of design, business, and engineering can do for humanity,” says Anuj. “In the end, it’s all about how much of a net positive impact you can bring about for the people around you—and IDM inspires me to work toward building the things that will do so.”
“If my life were a jigsaw puzzle,” says Alicia, “IDM would be the perfect fit for an important missing piece—an interdisciplinary experience that can unlock my potential.” Born in Costa Rica, Alicia graduated from Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico (ITESM), where she created MenTe (Mujeres en Tecnología). A passionate and active collaborator, she believes that the best things in life are better when shared. In 2015, she received a full scholarship from Google to attend Global Solutions Program (GSP) at Singularity University. She also helped launch the Costa Rican National Network for Women in Science and Technology (MenTe) and she’s been the streaming director for TEDx Talks in Costa Rica since 2010. For the past six years, Alicia has been creating testing solutions in the smart-grid, automotive, and networking fields for leading companies like Hewlett-Packard and Teradyne. “There’s no better moment than now to think big and impact the world positively” she says. The IDM faculty is empowering me to push beyond my limits, opening my mind, and having a clear understanding on integrated design and how important it is in every decision I make to have this vision to create what truly matters.”
Ben is an enthusiastic designer who is always focused on the end user. His passion for collaboration is only surpassed by his ability to come up with 99 solutions to a given problem—just ask him about the basketball and the hoop. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he began work as an industrial designer at Lowe’s Home Improvement for Kobalt power tools, where he was involved in all phases of the development process. As a strong visual communicator who loves to ideate, Ben also places high emphasis on prioritizing user needs, balancing manufacturing constraints, and understanding the market. “Being an effective designer requires more than just sketching and rendering abilities, which is why the IDM program at MIT stood out to me.” Where does Ben see himself in the future? “I want to solve challenging problems in thoughtful ways and make meaningful contributions to the way people interact with the world around them.”
An avid violinist, Ismail performed in the Cornell Symphony Orchestra during his undergraduate years. He started out in software consulting, implementing everything from financial pricing models to statistical analysis tools for the Centers for Disease control. Now Ismail is focused on high-tech consumer product development, building mobile apps, custom drones, and most recently an ultra-high resolution printer for smartphones called SnapJet. As the founder and CEO of SnapJet, Ismail believes that beautifully designed, mass market appliances are necessities in every middle-class household across the globe. “This is the next big opportunity in hardware, and I want to pursue it fearlessly with the skills and network of IDM behind me. An open hardware conglomerate that fully realizes the value of great design, economies of scale, economies of standardization, and community trust will truly send shockwaves through the balance sheets of its proprietary competitors.” With the support of his IDM teammates, Ismail is confident in his ability to build more ambitious products and companies—and through these contributions make a lasting impact in the art of hardware design.
Manuj is the founder and chief product officer of MadRat Games and the creator of the “World’s First Hindi Word Building Game—AKSHARIT™. Used in 3,000 schools across India, the educational version is the result of his desire to re-create the experience of playing games with his grandfather. Manuj’s journey into serious games began shortly after graduating from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, when he won one of India’s topmost business plan competitions for showcasing AKSHARIT. When asked during a job interview what made him unique, he replied: “Give me 10 random things, close me in a room for an hour, and I’ll make a game out of them!” Since then, Manuj has partnered with Nokia, Google, and Intel to launch more than 50 learning, wellness, and family game products. To realize his vision of touching one billion lives in a meaningful way, Manuj felt compelled to return to the drawing board. “What better way to achieve my goal than through IDM—an interdisciplinary program that combines the best of design, engineering, and management.”
A mechanical engineer and designer by trait, a chef at heart, and a cat lover through and through, Chacha has one goal in life: to do real and permanent good in this world. “Let the number of people I inspire 200 years from now be the measure of my success,” she says. After earning an engineering degree at MIT, Chacha studied at a culinary school in Italy. She plans to own an Italian restaurant, design the kitchen, run the business, and down the line run for governor and president. “As an undergraduate, I was told that I could solve any problem. I believe an engineer’s way of thinking can effectively achieve much progress in the often bogged-down political system.” When Chacha met with Matt Kressy, she was excited about the flexibility of the program, which allowed for her thesis to be a set of actions for social justice as opposed to a physical product. “One way or another, I will change the world, and this program will help me do so.”
“I find great pleasure in thinking out of the box and contributing to value creation through innovation,” says Aceil. As a millennial working in the real estate industry in the Middle East, Aceil belongs to a generation that pushes for innovation, embraces change, and takes many risks. “There’s a gap between the current paradigm of real estate products and my generation of digital, plugged-in urban dwellers,” she explains. Her goal is to build future cities that drive social development and entrepreneurial growth. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, Aceil joined Benchmark Development. She established an in-house design team, introduced the firm to social media, and led product design initiatives while working with world-renowned architects. It was difficult to find a graduate program that provided the technological edge to support her research activities as well as a people-centric learning experience. “The IDM program not only offers me the right set of tools and skills to kick-start the next stage of my career,” she says, “but also enables me to add value through innovation and collaboration with my peers.”
A mechanical engineer from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology in Pakistan, Talha started his career in the realm of automotive design. In a two-year stint with the firm, he led a team which designed, built and tested a fully autonomous mobile platform which aimed to simulate autonomous emergency braking tests. Performing the duties of a design and manufacturing engineer as well as a project manager, he soon realized that a successful project is a marriage between innovation and successful management.
Following up by working at a research lab focusing on developing locally relevant products in Pakistan, he worked on solutions to monitor and distribute drinking water. “Developing countries have a different need for design, which I aim to fulfill. Working in design and engineering has taught me a lot about developing a solution from scratch” he says. His primary objective is to learn how to successfully scale practical products and use that knowledge to develop, market, and disseminate those designs in Pakistan. Talha believes that the IDM program will polish his abilities and broaden his horizons. “As Dr. Paul Polak says, ‘Go to where the action is; listen with your soul; and think big. Or don’t bother.’”
A designer of products, services, and systems, Huda has a keen interest in user-centric design for solving sustainability and developmental issues. In 2012, she received the Vocational Excellence award from Rotary Bangalore for displaying path-breaking leadership. “Being open minded and eager to learn from and understand every entity surrounding a problem has helped me redefine and expand my role as a designer,” she says. Huda is deeply passionate about building innovative solutions that are socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable. After graduating as a product and user interface designer from Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology, Huda started as a product designer for SELCO India, and served as a design and sustainability consultant for the Innovation Center for the Poor. As the lead designer and head of urban poverty labs and senior management at SELCO Foundation, she is actively involved in design projects across various underserved user segments, providing solutions that span social, technical, and financial innovations. “After completing the IDM program, I hope to inspire, support, and lead social enterprises that will enable future generations to be agents and champions of sustainability in developing nations.”
“I’m passionate about creating crazy ideas,” says Charles. “From mobile apps to websites, marketing strategies to new business models, individual robots to home automation systems, innovation is part of my life.” After earning a dual degree in robotics engineering and mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Charles began working at Philips Healthcare as a mechanical design engineer. Soon he became responsible for implementing a fall simulation robot and designing mechanical components for award-winning products. Charles believes that IDM’s multidisciplinary curriculum will help him reach his long-term goal of starting a robotics company. “The robotics industry will be growing tremendously and improving our society in the near future,” he says. “From home robots that can help seniors live more independently to industrial robots that can help factories operate more efficiently, robotics will unprecedentedly influence our world.” As robots become the new trend, Charles knows that proficient engineering knowledge, creative design thinking, and effective business models will determine the success of their applications. During his journey at IDM, he hopes to create the next big thing—a robotic system that can help people navigate daily life.
A samurai from Japan, Masa is the son of ceramic tilers who made buildings aesthetically beautiful and practically useful. “This environment taught me the pleasure of creation, cultivated my imagination, and led me into a design career,” he shares. After earning a an engineering degree at Kyoto Institute of Technology, Masa worked as a user interface designer with engineers, marketers, researchers, and customers. At Samsung, he realized that design has the potential not only to make products beautiful and easy to use, but also to make people proactive in opening up their side of creativity. He led an integrated design project to create a new smartphone design concept. Masa’s long-term goal is to be a creative bridge to improve lives. “I want to start my own consultancy business, introduce the creative culture to my clients, and enhance their organizations through the power of design.” In the IDM program, he is learning how to integrate design with engineering and business—and gaining the knowledge that will empower him to be an innovative leader.
“I have always loved connecting the dots between disciplines,” says Sara. “At 11, I asked my dad to teach me how to solder so I could assemble the circuit board for my robot bug.” A scientist and entrepreneur, Sara works at the intersection of biology, education, multimedia, and design. Sara has experience in 3D animation, biomimicry, sustainability, user experience, strategic thinking, data analysis, and leadership in creative teams. She has been recognized for her love of collaborating to generate innovative solutions, especially for K-12 and higher education. Her career goal is to inspire intellectual curiosity and develop bio-inspired innovations to address human-centered needs. Sara is currently the co-founder of Bellwether Rugs, an ecommerce startup dedicated to redesigning the experience of purchasing a high-quality, handmade rug. She has previously worked as a Senior Content Associate for Boundless Learning, as a Project Assistant at the Concord Consortium, and as a high school Biology teacher at Noble and Greenough School. Sara graduated from Dartmouth in 2012 with a major in Biology and a minor in Digital Arts.
During a design competition at National Taiwan University, Tammy earned the Award of Excellence for her innovative combination of elements. That achievement inspired her to take advantage of the exchange program at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. When she returned home, Tammy cofounded Rawant’s Lab based on the belief that invention can create a better world—and everyone has the potential to be an inventor. Tammy not only is a creative and enthusiastic engineer, but also a caring designer and entrepreneur. She created a rabbit-shaped social robot that enables children with autism to express their inner thoughts. “Developing the functionality, locomotion, and child-appealing exterior has been challenging,” she says, “but the potential to help children makes the effort very rewarding.” Tammy was drawn to the IDM program because of its mission to develop the next generation of multidisciplinary innovators, designers, and thought leaders. Her future goal is to launch a company under her own brand with a focus on designing and producing unique products that help people. “An MIT master’s degree in IDM will play an essential role in helping me to achieve my dream.”
Her insatiable curiosity and preference for mechanisms led Maria to pursue a mechanical engineering degree and a master of engineering at Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. While working in the military industry supporting the production of wind- and hydro-chargers, Maria was inspired by the needs of people living in remote communities and her desire to contribute to their prosperity and growth. “Most of the people living on top of huge oil reserves are the same disadvantaged ones that inspired my work in alternative energy,” she notes. An engineer by choice, a designer by heart, and a manager by luck, she wants to dedicate her life to the art of producing appealing, functional, and accessible products. Working as a wireline engineer for Schlumberger enabled Maria to enlarge her ambition of creating a reputable brand of alternative energy products. “Curiosity and perseverance brought me to this point,” says Maria. “Through the IDM program, I will continue growing. My heart will beat in a Venn diagram to the rhythm of engineering, design, and a business plan.”
Immersed in the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative, Matt leads projects that create communities of faculty, alumni, and practitioners to better understand how digital technologies are changing the economy and society. “With powerful, combinatorial technology accessible by so much of the world,” he says, “we find ourselves in a position to create a collaborative world unlike anything we have ever seen or imagined.” After focusing on sustainable development at UNC-Chapel Hill—and winning a rowing championship, Matt’s early positions at entrepreneurial ventures shifted his interest to new product development, which ultimately brought him to MIT. The IDM program provides Matt with the space to hone his creative skills and the room to deeply examine the new practice of creation in our networked world. By combining the two, he plans to build products that not only fit into, but also substantially improve the lives of people around the world. “Open-innovation platforms currently exist on the cutting edge with plenty of room for experimentation and massive impact. The IDM program is delivering the tools, theories, and assets I need to bring exceptional, world-changing platforms to fruition.”
Sophia is a creative problem solver who continues to discover opportunities to create more effective solutions to the problems people face every day. While studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, Sophia developed a process-driven design philosophy: ask deep questions, understand stakeholders’ needs, and work through many design iterations to reach the most effective solution. “Great products are a dance among business, engineering, and design,” she notes, “with the contributions of one flowing indistinguishably into the other.” After graduation, her passion to understand how a product ecosystem provides value to society and her goal of bringing technology closer to people led her to work as a user experience designer, her clients included Akamai, Salesforce, Novartis, Bloomberg, EMC and Docker. Sophia’s curiosity about the ever-changing technological landscape and her mission to improve the product design and development process via cross-disciplinary collaboration brought her to the IDM program at MIT. “Working with a diverse group of people interested in the crossroads of all three fields in an open experimental context allows me to develop the skills I need to become a successful, design-minded business leader.”
“I’m motivated to build ventures that transform slow and mature sectors with user-centered design.” After pursuing a dual-degree in medical sciences and business administration, Kevin worked at Innosight, an innovation and strategy consulting firm founded by Clayton Christensen, advising clients on the development of new growth strategies and business models across a wide range of industries spanning from consumer packaged goods to aerospace and defense. Kevin was also recently selected as an IDEO fellow at the Future of Food CoLab, a collaborative incubator with MIT Media Lab and Target to prototype new ventures in urban farming & food transparency with emerging technologies like spectroscopy, microbiome engineering and augmented reality. He has learned through these experiences that leading transformation requires more than just strategic foresight, but also the agility to experiment, fail and learn quickly. During his free time, Kevin designs and manufactures protective gear for caregivers of aggressive children with autism that has been featured at the Boston Museum of Science and on CNN. A former competitive lifeguard and member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Kevin strongly believes in a multi-disciplinary approach to foster creativity and inspiration in high-performance teams. “Everyone has great ideas,” he says, “but what truly sets a great entrepreneur apart is the adaptability and resilience in an idea’s execution. IDM’s mission has become the backbone of this philosophy and will set me up for success at the intersection of design, engineering, and business.“
Guillaume Defrance de Tersant
Guillaume has always been fascinated by how powerful the combination of engineering and business could be. “I believe that people with knowledge in both disciplines command respect and leadership to develop innovative products”. He was born and raised in France, where he completed a bachelor in Applied Mathematics at Orsay university and a Masters in Management at HEC Paris. During business school, he helped develop an education structure for two years, and worked in corporate finance for a year as part of two six-month internships at Crédit Agricole and Silver Lake Partners. “During that time, I decided to change paths to be in the heart of the innovation process without knowing exactly how to get there,” he says. “When I found out about IDM, I thought it was the perfect fit. I realized that Design is the toolbox that I was missing: the cornerstone of meaningful innovations that fuels impactful collaboration between business and engineering”. Last summer, Guillaume interned at Dassault’s 3DExperience Lab, a 3D-focused startup incubator to gain more insights on new product development techniques. Since then, he has been learning how to use 3D modeling and simulation software. “Software is already integral in product design and will change the way we see the world,” he explains. “I want to dedicate my life to building innovative products and wonderful user experiences that will have a positive impact on our society.”
Laura is a passionate and driven¬ entrepreneur and intrapreneur who has always combined creativity with business. At New York University, she designed her own curriculum in studio art, business, and philosophy. While creating a thesis project at Parsons School of Design, Laura reconnected with her passion—making and selling products. Her winning thesis was adopted as a case study at the Milano Graduate School in New York for a Social Entrepreneurship class and she was invited to present her business plan at the Global Youth Conference at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. In 2011, Laura launched her own cosmetics manufacturing enterprise, Vonne, Inc., in Honduras and had her products sold in Walmart and TV Shopping.
After designing, developing, and launching mass consumer products in LATAM markets for 8yrs she realized she needed to take a sabbatical and continue her education. “Mr. Kressy´s integrated approach to engineering, business and design resonated with how businesses should operate and the hands-on lab experience makes the program unique. This model should be adopted in corporations as a C-Suite group leading strategy.”
Suneeta’s background in computer science engineering and her specialization in toy and game designing have fueled her passion for working with new technologies in the field of learning and development—and with users in diverse age groups. In 2013, she joined the startup KNOLSKAPE as head of the design team. Within a year, Suneeta was promoted to design manager. During that time, the training industry ranked KNOLSKAPE as one of the top 10 global gamification companies in the world. Suneeta was responsible for designing simulations that were used to train managers on implementing managerial concepts in real-world scenarios. Today, these simulations are used in technology-based companies and across various sectors, such as financial services, banking, and products and services. She also developed recruitment processes that helped the company halve the time and money spent on recruiting talent. But the projects that Suneeta enjoyed the most focused on helping people of all ages, from developing educational toys for children with hearing disabilities and autism to using the skills of underprivileged women artisans from the villages of India to create a range of playful products made from byproducts of the fabric industry. “Learning is an intrinsic and continuous process in life that shouldn’t be limited by age,” she says. “And learning techniques have a huge impact, because they can break a person’s interest in the subject or can help them reach new heights.”
Alex is an experienced ethnographic researcher and design strategist. He studies different microcosms of people (e.g. breastfeeding moms, pharmacists, retirees) to develop a deep understanding of their lives. To do that, he sits in people’s living rooms, follows them shopping and observes them at work. Alex uses that empathy to design products and services that help solve human problems. He loves this type of work because, “it constantly shows you the world through others’ eyes.” Alex has worked with some of the biggest companies in the United States to launch new products and services; most recently, Alex spent a year as the UX lead to redesign a Fortune 20 company’s e-commerce platform. Through the immersive IDM experience, Alex hopes to hone his ability to prototype and develop real products, so that he can help lead ideas from imagination into tangible realities. “It’s my job,” Alex says, “to make sure the best ideas make it out alive.”
An electrical engineer turned software geek, Prateek has a passion for solving problems. “I’m obsessed with technology and design,” he says, “specifically in marrying the two to create a product.” At the University of Maryland, he majored in electrical engineering and completed a competitive honors program in entrepreneurship and innovation. This trend continued when he began his career at Microsoft as a software engineer for a team specializing in developing custom products for large public-sector defense clients. Prateek and his team were responsible for the entire product development process – identifying client needs, turning needs into design prototypes, and then building and deploying the final products. As a result, Prateek developed a strong understanding of what it takes to go from ideation to product execution. Prateek then took his talents to New York City, where he worked for AOL to lead a new consumer product team. During his time in New York, Prateek also worked with his brother and friends on several side projects, such as Phoned, a recruiting platform, and Quotail, an options research and analytics platform. At IDM, Prateek is exploring new technologies and how design thinking can be used to build better products and stronger business ventures.
Meghan is an architect and designer whose work considers human experience, the built environment, digital fabrication, and materials science. Working across disciplines and scales, from products to buildings, she uses design to make technology accessible and to connect people with their environment. In her early career as an architect, Meghan worked with the global nonprofit Partners In Health to increase the standard of healthcare for thousands of Haitians through a large-scale teaching hospital. It was through this experience that she realized the success of the project was dependent on more than just design—it needed long-term vision and a strategic business model. Becoming increasingly interested in fabrication and materials, Meghan joined Formlabs, a startup that makes desktop stereolithographic 3D printers and materials. As one of the company’s first designers, she worked on the launch of the Form 1+ and Form 2 and developed use applications for various disciplines, including engineering, design, architecture, and dentistry. Today, her research merges her expertise in 3D printing with her background in architecture to focus on creating adaptable, deployable temporary structures via 3D printing. “To achieve a broader impact,” she says, “I’m learning how to design products that meet a business objective while creating social value.”
With a background in applied research and business development, Jonathan seeks to drive concepts toward the marketplace. He has developed award-winning technical projects in computer science, mathematics, and chemistry, and was a researcher at a defense/health nonprofit facility. While an adjunct instructor at Penn State University and at Saint Francis University, Jonathan was honored as Western Pennsylvania’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Due to unforeseen life events, his small family faced financial, social, and mental pressures. “Entrepreneurship and teamwork sustained my family,” he says. “We developed several ideas into tech-driven companies by leveraging the right combination of ‘bits, atoms, and brains.’” When asked how he thinks best, he says, “through rowing, trail running, and splitting firewood.” In the IDM program, Jonathan is focused not only on working with organizations to make them sustainable, but also on empowering economically marginal areas, such as his home region in Pennsylvania, where staple industries like mining and steelmaking have declined, taking economic opportunity and young minds with them. He has seen how people brought together through successful enterprises can rebuild towns and revitalize major cities such as Pittsburgh. “Common to either outcome,” he says, “is the humble first step made by a team with a dream—entrepreneurs, choosing to launch a venture.”
Pratik has designed products such as a home-scale biogas digester that runs on food waste and an off-grid submersible irrigation pump that uses compressed air. He has worked extensively with people with visual impairment trying to address why most technology has not been accessible to people with disabilities. As a mechanical engineering student, Pratik restored a motorcycle and used it to travel solo across parts of India and later worked as a mechanic maintaining bikes of the same make. He also played and sang in a band. He has even discovered and helped describe a new species of frog. Pratik is passionate about products that have the capacity to give birth to extended ecosystems and markets around them. His experience working with various wildlife conservation organizations in different parts of India has given him great respect for the power of ecosystems. He strongly believes in the inter-connectedness of things. “A systems perspective can add greatly to product design and better ensure success of the product in the field,” Pratik comments, “Furthermore, engineers, designers and business people working together can inspire each other to create better solutions more smoothly.”
Since childhood, Kamin has been crazy about technology and design. After graduating with a degree in computer engineering, he led many product development projects. Kamin leveraged this intensive work experience to found a hardware startup that not only raised more than $100,00 within six days on Indiegogo, but also became the first Thai project to succeed in crowdfunding. Despite having no experience in making hardware, he taught himself about the business and then successfully manufactured and shipped more than 2,000 units worldwide.
Kamin believes that developing multidisciplinary skills is critical to moving out of his comfort zone and making well-designed products that solve problems. With that goal in mind, he applied to MIT. “The IDM program immerses me in the human-centered design principle and enables me to make new friends who share the same belief.” Apart from his entrepreneurial career, Kamin is a part-time musician and music producer. He has performed more than 100 shows in Thailand and Japan, and his new song just hit number two on the Thailand Apple Music chart.
Anna has a passion for giving back to the community and using her design skills to create meaningful experiences. After receiving a degree in American Studies – a blend of psychology and legal courses – from the University of California at Berkeley, Anna began her career working with underprivileged youth in San Francisco. She led county-wide youth development programs that provided employment and educational training to formerly incarcerated youth. While working in the non-profit sector, Anna rediscovered her creative side and began taking art and design courses. This led to a career pivot to eBay where Anna worked as a UX designer and then to Chegg as a Lead UX Designer. Chegg empowered Anna to combine her passion for education with design as she developed educational apps that helped students find colleges and scholarships. The IDM program will strengthen Anna’s powers of design, equip her with the skills to be an entrepreneur, and be the catalyst for launching her own social enterprise. “One of my dreams,” she says, “is to travel to developing countries and use design to create a positive impact on the world.”
Pushpa is passionate about frugal engineering— creating simple products that can do more for less and also have a social impact. She thrives creatively when faced with challenging constraints. At Qualcomm, for example, she successfully led a leadership talk, a microwave cup-making workshop, and an international women’s day event for 60 engineers. The constraint: she did all of this on a yearly budget of only $700! What sets Pushpa apart as an engineer is her ability to present engineering concepts in layman’s terms. “Engineering doesn’t need to be difficult to understand. We need to make it more accessible,” she says. In 2016, her innovative testing solution and unique presentation style won her the best paper award at the Qualcomm Singapore Technical Symposium. As part of her final year project in National University of Singapore, she worked on a smart cycle “cyclometer” for the elderly with multiple features as part of the iNEMO design challenge by maximizing the use of all the motion and won third place. This experience made her realize the need to consider the design aspect when developing products. “I love to ideate,” says Pushpa, “and IDM is challenging me to create products that are not only functional, but also aesthetically appealing and marketable.”
Fahad chooses to live and shape his career by design, actively listening to the society around him to redefine his path. Doing so in his academic and professional life has allowed him to showcase his unique voice. At Rice, Fahad majored in Mathematical Economic Analysis while indulging in theatre and history classes. At Deloitte, he dipped his toes outside of traditional management consulting roles: he developed a crowdsourcing and training platform, a voice-of-customer analysis tool for retailers, and Deloitte’s perspective on retailers’ approach towards disruptive innovation through leveraging technologies like AI and 3D printing. “These projects enabled me to see that a mix of human-centered and data-driven decisions creates robust business models and services,” he says. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, IDM is pushing Fahad to become the creative leader he aspires to be—one who can paint a vision and inspire others to build sustainable solutions together. Fahad plans to dive into intra- and entrepreneurial ventures that use human-centered design and technology to enhance human potential. “While these decisions may morph, I know something that will be true upon graduation, as I walk across MIT’s commencement stage: I will have pushed the boundaries of my and MIT’s thinking, values, and beliefs.”
Attia grew up loving to paint, build things, and solve problems. After attending the Ross School of Business at Michigan, she backpacked through New Zealand and Australia for several months to feed her need for adventure and immersion into other cultures. She subsequently started work as a strategy consultant at IBM. “I liked the problem solving in consulting” she says, “however, I wanted the responsibility of helping grow a company.” This realization led Attia to the startup world, where she worked in the healthcare and education industries. Simultaneously seeking a way to help those around her, she started a nonprofit in San Francisco for the underprivileged. During her last job as a product manager at Craftsy, Attia discovered a missing link in her professional journey. In product development, she could combine her passions and expertise to deeply understand user needs, develop strategies and create products that help people in a sustainable and profitable way. With the goal of becoming a creative leader in the space, she came to IDM to learn the design and engineering aspects of product design. “My philosophy is that a rich understanding of different cultures and ideologies can lead to solutions that are effective and efficient” she states “and my hope is to work with people diverse in experience and perspective to add impact and beauty to the world.”
A designer, inventor, and engineer, Matt is inspired by thoughtful connections and elegant ingenuity. He is passionate about working with great teams to build sustainable products and services that improve quality of life and access to opportunities. After graduating from Tufts University with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering, Matt led and supported teams for four years at Global Good/Intellectual Ventures Laboratory near Seattle. He helped develop technology-based solutions to challenging issues in global health and global development through creative thinking, proof-of-concept testing, and prototype development in a sophisticated, fast-paced startup environment. Some of his past projects include creating a novel diagnostic reader for malaria, a high-efficiency thermoelectric vaccine refrigerator and icemaker, and ultra-sensitive rapid diagnostic tests and sample preparation technologies. “I’m interested in the intersection between emerging markets and emerging technologies,” says Matt. “It’s an area where interdisciplinary thinking has great potential to create impactful change.”
Prerna grew up in New Delhi, India, and earned her BA in economics and political science from Yale University. After graduating from college, she worked as a management consultant with various departments of the Indian government on projects that included strategic organizational visioning and design, drafting public policy, and management and technology transformation. During her time as a product and marketing manager in San Francisco, Prerna worked for a startup focused on consumer data privacy. At MIT, she is pursuing dual MS and MBA degrees through IDM and MIT Sloan. In the Spring 2016 semester, she assisted in teaching the undergraduate course, “Design: Your Life,” which integrates human-centered design and behavioral science to solve a personal challenge. After completing her first year of the MBA program, Prerna worked as the innovation intern at the UN World Food Programme headquarters in Rome. She also is involved in running the school’s flagship innovation and social enterprise competition, the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge. “I love working on the margins of different disciplines,” she says, “in order to find hidden connections that can help improve socioeconomic outcomes for all.”
John enjoys designing and making all kinds of things, including visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters, consumer product visualizations, custom kitchens, and hacks to one of his many bicycles. “As an undergraduate design student,” he says, “I learned how to use design thinking in all aspects of my personal and professional life.” During his career as a computer graphics artist at companies like Industrial Light and Magic, John has created animation and visual effects on popular franchises such as Star Wars, The Matrix, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones. He also has created motion graphics for broadcast, virtual reality, and interactive media for the likes of Mekanism, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and Obscura Digital. “Through the IDM program,” he says, “my goal is combine my previous experience with what I’m learning at MIT in order to create products and services for a diverse range of users from astronauts to kids with dyslexia and other learning differences.”
From a very early age, Izabela became fascinated by how the world works. And that’s why at the age of 16, she moved from Poland to London to study and pursue her dreams. After graduating from Goldsmiths University, she joined Venturespring Worldwide as the head of innovation, where she worked with startups, big brands, and corporations. She studied and worked in London, Paris, San Francisco, and Japan, and most recently attended the Graduate Studies Program on Exponential Technologies at Singularity University, NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley. Today, Izabela lives in Cambridge and is an innovation advocate and entrepreneur who is passionate about leveraging emerging technologies to drive scalable solutions to global problems.
When she arrived at IDM, Izabela was inspired by the ambitious mission of the program and by the courage and passion of her peers, who are constantly challenging the state of the world. Her focus is on artificial intelligence, its future implications, and how we will prepare society for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She is particularly interested in AI applications, automation, and augmenting human skills and intelligence. “Everyday I ask myself: How can I create new products and services that will empower people, so everyone can be independent, have equal opportunities, and contribute to creating a more meaningful world?”
By the age of 11, Jin had fast-tracked in math to the college level. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in electrical and computer engineering, studied art and design at the CyberARTS program in Toronto, and took business training at two summer programs at MIT prior to IDM. Ambidextrous and synesthetic in nature, Jin has always been interested in the intersection of multiple disciplines. She pursued three careers in tandem for numerous years as a mobile network engineer, social entrepreneur, and graphic designer. The IDM program provided the ideal opportunity for Jin to integrate these three careers into one. Passionate about making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged, she has worked on multiple engineering/design/business roles in a variety of social startups in the areas of poverty, water sanitation, healthcare, and the environment. In her spare time, Jin enjoys learning languages (13+), fixing cars, building houses and furniture, rock climbing, DJing, playing musical instruments, building models and IoT projects, and watching NFL and X-Games.
Lei is a product fanatic and a designer of user experience, industrial products, and enterprise systems. He has a keen interest in user-centric design for solving sustainability and developmental issues for businesses and has worked as a user experience designer for NTT DATA helping Fortune 500 companies such as McDonalds, Decathlon and BMW. Lei sees a gap in the industrial products category and decides to devote his creativity and to making improvement in this field. In the IDM program; his focus is two-fold: bringing the best user experience to the design of industrial products and applying virtual reality and augmented reality to the industrial field. “Design is illumination,” he says. “It lights up the path toward solutions to complicated issues and methods to overcome obstacles— great design always leads to great results.”
Yangyang is a designer who graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a degree in product design. During that time, she attended an exchange program at Delft University of Technology and held internships at Dajiang Innovation (DJI) for UAV camera design, Dongdao Brand Design and Consulting for user interface and brand design, and Songshan Lake Xbot Park Incubator for promotion planning. “The purpose of design is not confined to a useful, usable, or desirable product or solution,” says Yangyang, “but to help people pursue a better life.” To that end, she has worked on projects like teaching in schools in Rwanda via technology, the renovation design of Yan Chai Hospital Care and Attention Home, and user engagement in Pok Oi Hospital Elderly Home. In the IDM program, she is focused on building a comprehensive thinking style that can help teams blend diverse design, engineering, and business perspectives, applying which to smart product industry, elderly health care service, and design education.
Yoly believes that it is important to keep changing her perspectives on art, philosophy, technology, and society in order to improve the lives of people through design. After earning a bachelor degree in architecture and pursuing graduate studies at Tsinghua University in China, she and her friends founded Pacee, an educational platform devoted to building relationships between individual designers and public participation. Their focus is on developing the creative potential of K–12 children through the design-and-build process.
Yoly was also a co-initiator and major actress in the 217 opera troupe. She and her friends used buildings in Beijing as the background for performing classical or original dramas. “I truly believe in the potential of the human heart,” she says. Through the IDM program, Yoly hopes to design critical thinking programs that will motivate young people who choose to do good in the world.