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.