Growing up in a family of engineers, I spent evenings observing my mom turning hundreds of designs into lines of code to build oil refineries in Iran. She inspired me to use code to solve problems, which I combined with my passion for behavioral economics to engineer exotic derivative products for insurance companies at Deutsche Bank. However, after three years, I realized that without a human-centered approach, the end-user might not perceive a practical product as what they want.
I’m most passionate about how nascent technologies can enhance the way we interact with the world. To equip myself with the cutting-edge tools in programming, I’ve been taking computer science classes at PennEngineering. For example, I used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to code a predictive typing machine, the Empathy Writer, so that people can communicate in a way that resonates with their audience.
At Penn, I'm active in the tech and design community, serving as a co-president for the Wharton Innovation & Design Club. I have led over 100 MBA students to explore careers in tech, startup, and design in New York and San Francisco, attracting sponsorships from companies including Google, Uber, IDEO, Electronic Arts, PayPal, Gensler, WeWork, to name a few.
I care about economic empowerment and aspire to shorten the distance between good intentions and reality. This is especially challenging for the local businesses, who struggle to show their impact beyond their communities. To try and solve this, I volunteered at Work for Good in London, a social enterprise that empowers local businesses to give to the causes they care about in an easy and visible way. This spring, I'm also designing products and services for InSupply, a social enterprise in Tanzania, so that local doctors and nurses can have better access to the tools and medicines their patients need.
"See the world as it is, and how you want it to be." The pure joy of building something from scratch motivated me to start learning about design thinking after three years in banking, and pushed me to make the career switch to tech product management. During the special time of COVID-19, more and more people need to buy safely and quickly. That's why I'm working with my team right now to launch the Amazon marketplace to the world. By the end of 2020, over 5 million new customers in Europe and the Middle East will gain access to over 30 million products online.
How might we create an environment that triggers more spontaneous conversations in the new entrepreneurship building at Penn? I designed this interactive, multi-functional wooden bench with my team to bring Hawaiian beach waves to our Philadelphia campus.
After a year of effort, I finally made this bench with the help of Philadelphia Precision CNC. It's now sitting in the lobby of Tangen Hall, the new entrepreneurship building on the UPenn campus! See photo here.
Traditionally, hospital labs use flat culture dishes to grow tissues. Cells end up growing in a way that looks like a spaghetti mess instead of an organized tissue structure. Textured surfaces enable aligned cell growth, enabling realistic tissue engineering out of the body.
With scalable nanowrinkle technology invented at UPenn, I designed a smart cell culture dish using 3D printing with my team to bring tissue engineering from benchtop to bedside (real patients). Learn more here.
How might we create an environment to help Michael, who's recently disabled, to feel empowered about his current state of being so that he's more confident?
Currently, accessible shower chairs are medical looking and unstable. I designed this lightweight, sturdy, and water-proof shower bench with my team of designers and engineers at Penn. It fits into any modern bathroom designs while serving the special needs of wheelchair users. Learn more about my inclusive workspace product suite here.
In a world where technology has enabled us to connect with others remotely in the fastest and most convenient way, surprisingly few tools exist to make sure each conversation truly counts.
This problem has got more acute especially during this period of COVID-19. Survey data shows that long-distance couples exchange on average 343 texts a week, yet over 58% break up by the 4 months mark, with "lack of communication" as the biggest challenge.
How might we write in a way that resonates, so that nothing gets lost in translation?
My team and I have built a Natural Language Processing algorithm, the “Empathy Writer”, to enhance long-distance communications by showing the writers how their tone might be perceived by the readers and making conversations more enjoyable with predictive emojis.
The resulting machine predicts emojis with high accuracy of 59%, which beats humans by a shocking 15%. This surprising finding implies that AI can not only help us get things done but also empower us to empathize with each other on a much deeper level.
Have you ever tried to cut your food with a spoon, just ended up making a mess out of the entire dish?
When I was observing my friends eating on the table, I noticed they rarely use the bottom right corner of their spoon. I hand-made this Spife using a piece of Mahogany, in an effort to merge the sharpness of a knife with the warm texture of a wooden spoon. 6 hours of sanding has made it extremely satisfying to touch!
When you pick it up, the Spife functions as an elegant spoon you can eat anything from appetizer to dessert with. When flipped, it transforms into a 19th-century British fish fillet knife. The end is just pointy enough to pick small bones from a cooked fish, and the flat blade is perfect for sliding between the flesh and skin.
Ever bought a shirt that looked cool in the store, but never wore it again? It sits quietly in your closet. You didn't even take off the price tag.
How can we better the way people decide whether purchases will be used and fit into their lives?
I designed ReBox, a system for buyers to test potential purchases, remind themselves of purchases they are considering, help them gauge interest and excitement of a purchase, and send back to store. Learn more here.
#MobileProduct #UI/UX #BusinessDesign
Object for Sitting
Project MeTime | Advanced Product Design, 2020
When you walk into a lobby of any building, what’s the first thing that catches your eye?
To help furnish the lobby of Tangen Hall, the new entrepreneurship building at UPenn, I designed this temple-like bench with a ball pit in the middle, providing users a way to escape, bond, and eat during their lunch break.
In this project, I take on the challenge to design a children's toy that provides an enhanced visual output greater than the input through the pendulum mechanism. It's manually activated, fun to watch, and doesn't include any electronics.
Community gardens are like hidden gems. According to our interviews, residents in the Penn community don't know much about their gardens but want to participate in gardening.
How might we redesign community gardens so that people can access and engage with them more?
I created GardenUnlocker with my team. Our urban garden allows frictionless access across neighborhoods, both physical and informational, and makes gardens appeal to a wider community. Learn more here.
#MobileProduct #UI/UX #AR #BusinessDesign
Creating Memories that Last
Project RedLantern | Web Product Design with Karl Ulrich, 2018
Think about the Christmas and new year parties you went to. How did you feel and what do you remember?
When I was little, my grandma would hang up red lanterns when hosting big parties at home. These red lanterns not only publicize the party, entertain the guests, but also help people remember the great time.
Every day, emails and social media posts cramp to grab our attention. However, few solutions exist to help us create simple yet memorable offline experiences.
Through project RedLantern, I try to answer the question: in what way might we make it simple and fun to host memorable home parties?
The concept is a mobile web app that empowers the host to simply get the fun part of hosting without all the hassle, a "Rent the Runway + IKEA for home parties." We help the user find the perfect party idea, send everything needed to host it with easy instructions, stress-free from dreaming to cleaning.
How might we create an environment to help Michael, who's recently disabled, feel empowered about his current state of being so that he feels more confident to connect with others?
Our team has interviewed four disabled people and three staff from the Inglis House in Philadelphia and New York department of transportation and designed a new way for the disabled to play their favorite games.
Talk to the play station to register your customized gestures for left, right, forward, and backward. Play games with others and make new friends!
According to interviews, most university students in China think JD as a traditional online retailer, not an innovative technology company. The company needs to change this perception to attract top candidates to join.
After prototyping and testing different online and offline solutions, we decided to focus on creating a memorable offline recruiting experience in the form of a "campus ambassador" that answers questions from students.
I'm a lover of great outdoors. It all started from a month of camping in the Sonoran Desert as a cacti researcher in 2012. Since then, I have hiked through Jurassic coast, Tibetan highlands, the Isle of Skye, the Giant Causeway, the Dolomites, Patagonia, and the Antarctica. Where's my next venture?