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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 an engineer who interned with Bharat Dynamics Limited, and worked on an “Intruder Detection System” for a missile integration shelter. She has since worked as a systems engineer with BrahMos Aerospace, where she handles communication protocols, avionics systems, and systems engineering in general. She is particularly interested in intangible heritage (performing arts, language, etc.) and problems facing rural Indian communities, which led to work on a real-time analysis and alert system for stampede prevention in the Kumbha Mela. She continued with this theme for her final MDE project, which focused on homeworkers in India. She nows works at Esri.
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.
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 in the Boston area.
A number of MDE alumni run Inscription, a design and strategy company.