MDE alumni take the skills, tools, and techniques developed during the program into a variety of fields, industries, and research institutions. Having discovered and developed subjects of passion during their time in the program, whether through core courses, electives, or both, graduates also continue working on design engineering projects. Others use newfound skills and interests as a pivot point in their careers.
Nicki joined the MDE program to work creatively and collaboratively on socially impactful projects and to build original solutions in areas of health & aging, mobility, and waste & sustainability. Prior to Harvard, Nicki studied Public Policy and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, worked as a corporate strategist evaluating the potential for new technologies across product groups as well as the implications of competitive developments at Microsoft, and lived in dozens of countries around the world while experimenting with remote work constructs. More recently, she worked in user research and design strategy for a Research and Development group at Amazon.
Zeerak is interested in the social and cultural impacts of technology. His liberal arts education allowed him to make good on a childhood dream to build software while branching out into other interests, including politics, Islam and Near Eastern studies, and sociology. Before the MDE program, Zeerak's work at Microsoft and various startups across the US and Pakistan spanned search software, open data systems, educational games, music streaming, and health. During the MDE program, he worked on methodologies for better design and use of technology in the public domain, attempting to understand technology’s social impacts, and to increase design understanding of the developing world. This resulted in Matnsaz, a project to develop Urdu keyboards and interface design guidelines. Zeerak continues to work on Matnsaz, while also serving as a Senior Design Lead at Amazon.
Nicole is a structural engineer from the Netherlands whose book on the integration of photovoltaics in historical built environments led to government-funded research to provide visions and a framework for policy that is now implemented. For her final MDE project, she combined biology, engineering, and design to study bio-based building materials. Currently, she is a research assistant at the Community Biotechnology Initiative in the MIT Media Lab, and is continuing her education in the Master in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT.
Jeronimo has gone from working in the Hollywood film industry to founding a company that designed and manufactured LED roadway lighting fixtures. After seven years of operating the company, he joined the MDE program to further understand how technologies such as automation, industrial IoT, and robotics are disrupting the workforce. During his summer at Tulip - a company that designs manufacturing software - he explored methods of addressing these problems. Through his continued studies at SEAS, GSD, and HBS, he is seeking to answer questions such as: how might we ‘upskill’ factory workers for them to remain at their jobs? How might we assess team compatibility? And lastly, how might we make workers in repetitive jobs, happier?
Jeremy Burke is a City and Architectural Designer and Researcher interested in how new modeling techniques can describe complex social systems. At Harvard, Jeremy graduated from the inaugural cohort of the Harvard MDE program, where he developed research around design criteria for innovation districts operating in synergy with logistics hubs and developed industrial infrastructure to support local agriculture. Jeremy explores how traditional design methodologies can be informed through computational thinking to create a systems level understanding to inform the design and development of sustainable architectural and infrastructure projects to foster healthy communities. In addition, he has worked with a variety of start-ups to plan, market, and create new strategies for continued growth. Prior to his joint thesis with Ramon at Harvard, Jeremy worked with Kennedy Violich Architecture, BRU Architects, and Alon Development. Read about his current work: Aretian.
Humberto is a systems thinker and strategist with a background in economics and five years of entrepreneurial experience, founding and leading Bemena, a video production company based in Mexico City. He has created and led diverse projects in areas combining design with technology and the arts, including duCode, a non-profit where children from under-served neighborhoods experimented for the first time with electronics and programming. During the summer of 2018, Humberto developed a product for the Corporate Strategy team at Autodesk, leveraging machine intelligence to create a mutual growth relationship between users and machine. His current work falls at the intersection of social cognition, lifelong learning, and human-machine collaboration.
Ngoc is a designer who is happiest in creative environments. She is interested in sustainability, especially in the textile industry, and her final MDE project focused on fast fashion. Before the MDE program, Ngoc was a Design Fellow at the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, where she helped students design, develop, and actualize their ideas. She now works as a product manager at MIT.
Jenny is a product designer and creative technologist with a background in business from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Prior to joining MDE, she developed digital marketing strategies as a consultant at Accenture Interactive. She’s helped early stage start-ups refine their product vision as the UI/UX lead at Applico, a boutique design consultancy, and built the Product Design team at a Bombfell, Series A retail start-up in NYC. Most recently, she interned as an Interaction Designer with IDEO working on autonomous vehicles in partnership with Ford’s Greenfield Labs. She is inspired by interdisciplinary applications of human-machine interaction, urban resilience, and complex adaptive systems.
Kun Fan is an engineer who studied the mechanics of materials and structure, which gave him a solid foundation for future endeavors. He is interested in addressing problems in the context of various economic systems, and finds beauty and potential in computer code for making the impossible possible. During the MDE program, he focused on issues surrounding rapid urbanization and affordable housing in Chinese megacities, and he has since returned to China to continue working on these topics at Vanke.
Ramon Gras is a City and Infrastructure Researcher and Designer from Barcelona, working on the urban innovation space. At Harvard, Ramon graduated from the inaugural cohort of the Harvard MDE program, where he developed research around design criteria for innovation districts operating in synergy with logistics hubs. Prior to developing his joint thesis with Jeremy at Harvard, Ramon worked at Ferrovial’s Innovation office in London, where he led design and technology projects at the London Heathrow Airport and the London Underground. Before his experience in London, Ramon’s thesis at MIT addressed the consolidation problem in air freight transportation by designing an advanced Business Intelligence platform. He expanded his training at MIT after working as a designer in major infrastructure projects involving bridge design, maritime infrastructure, high speed rail, and architectural design (a Richard Rogers project). Ramon’s early research at BarcelonaTech focused on bridge design, high performance materials, and nanotechnology applications for structural engineering. Read about his current work: Aretian.
Chao Gu is a structure engineer with additional training in Tongji University’s Innovation and Venture program, and has working experience in architecture construction, project management, and building certification. His passion for optimizing the design process and automatic construction brought him to the MDE program, where he focused on addressing the demands of society’s rapid development. As a result of the program, he has moved into machine learning and works at Unity Technologies.
Saif’s professional experience has been based in the NY Metro Area as well as the Middle East, most recently at AECOM-Abu Dhabi. While at AECOM, he worked as an architect specializing in computational design and algorithmic modeling, with additional exposure to project management. His work spanned high-rise towers, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and masterplan developments. Saif is dedicated to addressing societal problems at the interface between human behavior and the built environment, with a focus on crisis mitigation, urban displacement, and resiliency. He is also an award-winning artist in film and music competition and enjoys singing and composing in his free time.
Brian is an interdisciplinary designer working at the intersection of society, technology, and the built environment. He believes design creates joy, community, and justice; he loves cities, infrastructure and interfaces. Brian has collaborated on the development of software, buildings, and plans in Boston, SF, NYC, and NOLA, with a focus on design for the public realm. During his time in the MDE program, he explored how machine intelligence and urban systems can improve human experience. Brian hopes to build better intelligent and interactive systems across the physical and digital, and is now a designer at Sidewalk Labs.
Vivek is an engineer with a background in product development, entrepreneurship, and computer science. After his undergraduate studies in Aerospace Engineering, he joined Honeywell, where he worked on rapid prototyping and development of products for private jets. More recently, Vivek has worked with founding teams at multiple different startups – including Utopia.do, My Online Health Hub, and Predible Health - on strategy, product, software and user experience. Across his professional and academic work, Vivek believes in creating and influencing through design, engineering, and innovation. Beyond this, Vivek enjoys art, cats, soccer, waffles, programming, and trekking.
Prior to joining the MDE program, Anesta worked at several design firms in San Francisco on projects ranging from private residences, a place of worship, an airport, and more. Although trained and professionally employed in the field of architecture, Anesta has spent the last year delving into new topics in product design, data science and visualization, digital design, film, and most recently, the field of science related to the human microbiome. She has received awards for several design competitions in both architecture and product design and has exhibited works in the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, Museum of Craft and Design, and the A+D Gallery. She is constantly curious, forever innovating, and enjoys both playing the piano and figure skating.
Julie Loiland is a bioengineer who, as an undergraduate, co-founded a company to develop novel solutions to prevent concussions in NFL, NCAA, and high school football. She has since worked as a program manager in research and development at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Washington, D.C. During the MDE program, she worked on innovative human-centered design solutions and products to enhance people’s daily lives and provide meaningful benefits to society as a whole, leading to emma. She now works at the United States Department of Defense.
Erin is a practitioner of human-centered design and passionate about creating equitable experiences for users of diverse abilities as well as designing for extreme environments. Most recently, Erin worked as an Interaction Designer for Disney Parks & Resorts. Additionally, she has led research projects investigating affordable access to space systems, as supported by aWashington NASA Space Grant. From this research, she conducted several novel launches, including the launch of a 3D-printed, high-powered rocket, and a rocket + balloon system. She is interested in exploring the intersection of astronaut activities on Mars and human-centered design. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Erin can often be found hiking, backpacking, or sailing.
Arjun is a creative technologist with a background in mechanical engineering and industrial design. He focuses on creating user-centric innovations that live at the intersection of digital experiences and physical products. Prior to Harvard, he was responsible for the conceptual design, prototyping, and implementation of multiple automotive design projects at Nissan-Ashok Leyland, General Motors, and Tata Motors, winning multiple global automotive design and innovation awards in the process. His passion spaces now revolve around creating cutting-edge design ecosystems that enable and empower people. During the summer of 2018, he worked with the CEO’s senior leadership team at workplace design firm Knoll to craft a strategic vision for the firm. After hours, Arjun loves pushing pixels and ideas in equal measure.
Chien-Min Lu has a background in mechanical engineering and product design, and interned as a mechanical engineer in Taiwan. He then worked as a product designer in both Taiwan and Italy. On the material side, he is interested in understanding resources and finding ways to make sure they are well used, well distributed, and well recycled and up-cycled. On the emotional side, he wants to explore how design can change people's lives on an emotional level, using the combination of beauty and technology, and for his final project, focused on educational tools for ASL. Post-graduation, he joined a local startup.
Following her mechanical engineering studies, Terra worked in a technical consulting role as a mechanical and a materials engineer, leading projects to manage and guide risk mitigation decisions at ExxonMobil. Her interest in design and new technologies led her to the MDE program, and she extended this passion into a summer internship at Formlabs, a leading 3D printer company. This internship turned into a full-year product manager opportunity, where she led the company into a new industry and developed new applications for the printer. After a busy year, she is excited to now return to the MDE program. Terra is originally from Western Canada and loves all things outdoors; especially skiing, mountain biking, climbing, and backpacking.
Santiago Mota is a designer, researcher, and consultant based in Mexico City. In 2012, he co-founded the CASA Research and Design Group at UNAM to engage real world issues regarding the contemporary city. He has also worked as a project manager for Soma Architects in New York, and as a project architect at DMP Arquitectura in Mexico City. He is interested in developing a new design-research practice by challenging widespread notions regarding energy, sustainability, and resiliency, and following the MDE program, received a Harvard Bloomberg City Leadership Initiative Fellowship.
Neeti Nayak is a designer, engineer, and performing artist interested in the geopolitics of technology and it's effect on the intangible culture of spaces. Her work at Harvard focused on the informality in the rural-urban space and creating solutions for marginalized communities who exist in that space, as well as agriculture and farmer community development. She worked as a researcher in the Partition project with the South Asia Institute, and was among the core-organizers of the India Conference at Harvard for two years. She has continued her work with central Indian farmers and artisans, and was awarded the South Asia Institute grant for her IDEP concept, as well as the Asia Center Graduate Student Associateship. Prior to her degree, she worked as a performing artist and in the defense avionics and aerospace industry. She continues to explore her interests at Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), where she works on design and development of Geospatial products, Geospatial analysis, and its application to policy and the built environment.
Saad has worked as both a strategist and implementer across a variety of sectors to include oil and gas, solar energy, consumer goods, and real estate. He has managed teams from the conceptual design phase to final implementation, and worked on projects on five different continents. In Tanzania, Saad co-founded and helped grow various social enterprises. In Tajikistan, he worked with the Aga Khan Development Network on earthquake mitigation and housing improvement. And in Canada, his love for the human interactions of the built environment led him to his most recent experience as a project manager in design and development at a real estate development firm where he led large scale projects through the entire process of financing, design, construction, and marketing.
Michael Raspuzzi is Co-Founder of Culinairy Labs, a startup using algorithms to establish a smarter and more personalized future of food. As Design Lead for Boston Bay Innovation, Raspuzzi is re-branding Boston's innovation ecosystem, and as Design Instructor for both the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, he focuses on applied learning and curriculum development at the intersection of design, engineering, and entrepreneurship. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and an inaugural Master in Design Engineering from Harvard University—where his project with Julie Loiland, EMMA: Maternal Healthcare Coach, earned him and Julie the MDE 2018 Thesis Prize. With playful interdisciplinarity, Raspuzzi ultimately enjoys building collaborative organizations, initiatives, and communities to solve complex problems in the global food system.
Carla has explored her passion for spatial experience in the kinetic and static realms of design through theater and architecture. With the MDE program, her fascination with spatiality expanded to encompass both virtual and tangible perspectives, and their connection to technologies. Prior to Harvard, Carla’s professional journey included high-end design and low-cost architecture work in the Middle-East, Spain, and the United States. While at Soma Architects and Hashim Sarkis Studios, she worked on residential and mixed-use projects. At UNRWA, she implemented design solutions within the shelters’ rehabilitation program at the Palestinian Refugee Camps. Carla is interested in the spatial interrelation of borders and technologies as well as their repercussions on design, social patterns, and economic impact. For fun, she enjoys photography, diving, CrossFit, and recently, sailing.
Julian is a brand and business strategist with experience crafting market and product strategies for large multinationals and fast-paced start-ups. Julian worked at McKinsey & Company’s Berlin office, where he consulted with European clients in China, Germany, Switzerland, and Thailand. At McKinsey, he also helped launch an early-stage consulting group, which introduced him to the e-commerce start-up Amorelie. At Amorelie, Julian established the private label division, launching 12 brands and over 350 products in two years. He was responsible for the entire end-to-end process from supply chain management to go-to-market strategy to online pricing and product positioning. While enrolled in the MDE program, Julian is focusing on bioengineering and bio-fabrication, evaluating the future of fashion and food. In his free time, he loves playing music, sports, and engaging with art.
Kenneth is a creative and technologist with experience designing new products and services for companies such as IDEO, Groupon, Kaiser Permanente, and venture-backed startups. With an academic background in neuroscience and anthropology from Brown University, Kenneth’s work has spanned several areas of interest including brain-computer interfaces, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, and fashion. At Harvard, he has focused on a lab-on-a-chip technology to bring affordable diagnostics to the healthcare industry and a wearable therapy for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Bridging his experience in product strategy, visual design, and consumer psychology, Kenneth is passionate about building mission-driven brands tackling technically deep and multi-scalar societal challenges. In his spare time, he loves mentoring junior designers, playing racquet sports, and extreme minimalism.
Following undergraduate engineering studies, Kate was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps where her training focused on leadership and flying acumen. Kate’s early career as a pilot included experience flying over 3000 hours, leading more than 100 combat missions, and ultimately a selection to attend the United States Naval Test Pilot School. As an experimental test pilot, Kate integrated aeronautical engineering, high-risk test and evaluation, and program management to guide Department of Defense acquisition decision-making. She bridged the gap from conception to employment of revolutionary new technologies. Kate’s research at Harvard is centered on smart materials, innovative design, and autonomous systems with a specialized focus on the electric-VTOL space. Outside of academia, Kate loves spending time on adventures, running, practicing yoga, reading quietly, and crafting savory vegan dishes.
Vish is a product manager and business strategist. He has 5 years of experience at BCG Digital Ventures, IDEO.org, and Accenture, collaborating with and leading teams to create pioneering product and business model innovations across a range of industries. As a product manager at BCG Digital Ventures, Vish helped launch the home services startup All Set, developed the future of grant-making at the Gates Foundation, and designed a digital banking app for unbanked populations. Prior to that, he worked on strategy projects in digital health, energy, and technology at Accenture. He is passionate about building cutting-edge products that extend the benefits of technological and societal progress to underserved populations, teaches product management and data analytics at General Assembly, and is an Indian classical musician.
Karen Su has always been interested in design-oriented problem solving. In college, she studied computer science, visual art, and philosophy. For work, she has explored each stage of the software development lifecycle, from full-stack web development, to user experience design, to product management. These experiences converged in her most recent role as lead product designer at a San Francisco startup, and following the MDE program, she continues working at the convergence of creativity and technology at Spotify.
Janet’s undergraduate and professional experience has largely focused on machine learning applications, including computer vision and machine comprehension. She has worked in research at Yahoo and National Taiwan University, and helped set up MediaTek’s data-centric infrastructure and process. While enrolled in the MDE program, Janet is extending her data science knowledge toward addressing social problems, including networked systems like public transportation and social media. In her free time, she is an avid traveler and enjoys photographing food around the world.
Kiran joined the MDE program directly out of her undergraduate studies in Computer Science and Architecture at MIT. In academia, Kiran analyzed the crossover between technology, design, and law with focused research at the MIT Media Lab. In industry, she further explored her passion with internships at Microsoft, Square, and Palantir’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Team. In practice, she aims to apply her education and experience directly through activities like directing MIT’s Global Startup Workshop, or writing for Science in the News. Kiran’s thesis work is centered on her interdisciplinary interests in privacy law, data governance, and the social impact of technology-driven systems. Kiran loves Taco Bell, dark chocolate, and big dogs.