DFA NYU Alumni
Who are they? What do they think about DFA?
project engagement manager
While studying electric engineering at NYU, Michael joined DFA on the NYU FREEdge project – the campus community fridge taking on food waste and insecurity. He then joined the Leadership team to plan and to produce sponsorships for a design sprint and social meetup with other Northeast chapters. In his last year at NYU, his focus as DFA President was to recruit new project teams and introduce them to design thinking and to their team mentors.
“While I gained some valuable technical knowledge studying at NYU, the bulk of my experience in college came from my time with DFA. The members and mentors I met served as friends and inspirations and the skills I developed served me better than much of my structured education did. And while I have not used design thinking workshops in my job so far, I have continued to use the design thinking mindset every day to problem solve at work and at home. How might I continue to iterate on my personal and career growth?”
Adhish is a Master of Science alumni at New York University Tandon School of Engineering. Majored in Management of Technology with experience and interest in Data Analysis and Design Thinking, he is interested in Innovation Strategy both in Organizations and Product. His recent interests include Data Science and Machine Learning. He is currently working as a Project Manager, Digital Platforms at Herzog and Schindler.
Rise Products Inc., CEO
Ashwin is an entrepreneur, researcher and engineer who uses design thinking to fight food waste in Brooklyn. As CEO of Rise Products, he brings together diverse actors, resources and technology to convert overlooked byproducts into healthy, tasty and sustainable ingredients, while empowering previously incarcerated women through dignified work, fair wages, and immersive technical and leadership training. He also teaches research methods for social and cultural context in design at the New School. He graduated from NYU Tandon with a PhD in Technology Management and wrote his doctoral dissertation on technology and labor in on-demand and algorithmically managed work.
“Being a part of DFA-NYU has helped me in my professional life by giving me access to a network of designers who are willing to improve our social and material conditions. As a founding member of DFA-NYU, I get invited to events where I meet passionate students looking to help a company like Rise amplify its impact. Sometimes students looking for an internship reach out to us through our profile on the DFA alumni page. In addition to honing my design-thinking skills, it’s these authentic relationships that I find valuable.”
Ashley Siyu Tang
Ashley had been a DFA member throughout the 4 years of her undergrad study at NYU, where she majored in Media, Culture, and Communication and minored in Anthropology. Among the various projects she participated at DFA, she devoted most of her passion to Placemaking Reimagined, an ongoing inquiry of how might we provide a safe “space” for women experiencing homelessness. As a Master’s student currently studying Social Anthropology at University of Oxford, Ashley is interested in exploring the intersection between media and anthropology.
“I like how DFA is an ongoing project/experiment itself in that we keep looking for the problems existing within the organization and thinking about how we can improve. As part of the club admins, I learned how to manage an organization and how we can learn and change from small details. Besides, the experience of being part of various projects helped me with learning how to incorporate means like media and ethnography when tackling problems and telling stories.”
User RESEARCH @GOOGLE
Harshita is a creative problem solver and inclusive design advocate. She offers over six years of experience in design and product; she is currently an Executive Producer for UX Research at Google and has previously worked at McKinsey & Co and Morgan Stanley. She recently graduated from NYU with an interdisciplinary M.A., where her research explored the role of empathy in disability-led design. Harshita thrives in collaborative environments and is energized by connecting with other people. In her spare time, she pursues a myriad of hobbies—from poetry to pottery to podcasting.
“Being a part of DFA not only helped me to build upon my interest in HCD, but moreover opened up a myriad of interesting opportunities to learn from/collaborate with the greater NYC design community and find a mentor in Anne-Laure Fayard. It was a formative experience for my academic and professional growth—I would highly recommend it to anyone interested.”
MPhil in Innovation
Sam is a recent graduate from New York University, studying Sociology at the NYU Shanghai campus. Sam spent her junior year studying in New York City and was warmly embraced by the DFA-NYU family. She was the research lead and one of the cofounders of the “Placemaking Reimagined” project at DFA-NYU. She started the project with other DFA-NYUers as they felt strongly about doing something, however small, for women living in homeless situations in NYC. This passion for social innovation has led her a research master program in Innovation, Strategy and Organization at the University of Cambridge.
“On the outset, I had been closely mentored by Anne-Laure and other DFA-NYU members. The DFA-NYU leadership team organizes regular meetups and workshops to guide us through the human-centered design process. I’ve been able to learn and gain hands-on experiences in managing teamwork, professional community, and of course the human-centered design principle. The experience of applying human-centered design on a real social issue enabled me to have a better understanding about the design thinking and landed at a summer internship at IDEO’s office in Shanghai.”
As the Staff Engineer, Parth is responsible for developing the engineering design for the project along with technical and financial feasibility assessment. Parth has developed 3 patents for Uncharted Power in energy storage and energy transmission technology alongside contributing to other product patents at Uncharted Power. Parth worked with ABB India Ltd where he designed control systems for multi-million-dollar projects with the High-Power Rectifiers division for chemical and steel smelting plants. He has a passion for developing Internet of Things technology for home and life automation solutions. He hosts meetups and events for increasing public education about hardware programming.
“As an engineer I tend to focus on the problem and how to solve it. The thought of other people using my solution and how it impacts them is the last thing on my mind. With DFA I learned about Human Centered Design process and different parts of the process such as User Studies, User Feedback, Design iterations, basic prototyping etc – which I was never exposed to in my education or professional career. This has changed the way I work and design my solutions. Additionally, DFA has different social projects on going – Bindi, Life in homelessness etc – which are close to heart projects and seeing the impact of the projects makes you believe that humanity still exists.”
designer & researcher
Leslie Martinez is a designer and researcher who works at the intersection of immigration and design. In May of 2016, she graduated from NYU’s MS in Integrated Digital Media a program housed within the Dept. of Technology, Culture, and Society at the Tandon School of Engineering. While at NYU, she was an active member of Design for America of NYU where she designed a community-centered program to empower women in a slum of Kathmandu, Nepal.
In March of 2017, Leslie started a 14-week residency at TED Conferences. While in her residency Leslie will continue her research in redesigning ways unaccompanied immigrant children can access ‘know your rights’ information. She recently organized Hack the Ban, a hackathon that matched creatives and technologists with organizations supporting the Muslim and immigrant communities of New York City. She is currently the Program Manager for the Ecologies of Migrant Care Initiative at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Leslie is associated with the NYS Courts Signage Project.
Lillian Warner is a UX designer. As a graduate student in the Integrated Digital Media program at NYU Tandon, she focused on thinking about how traditional human-centred design methods can be applied to emerging technologies, especially augmented and virtual reality. She has spoken about her work at the Seattle Interactive Conference, NYC Media Lab’s Future Reality Expo, and ConveyUX. She is excited about helping to build an inclusive, welcoming AR/VR community.
social media manager
Priyanka Vora is an award-winning multimedia journalist with an audience-first approach to reporting and editorial product development. She leads social strategy at Eurasia Group’s GZERO Media.
Vora graduated with a master’s degree in digital journalism and innovation from New York University. She is using the principles of Human-Centered Design to drive innovation in newsrooms. She has worked on several multi-stakeholder editorial projects with the Financial Times, Axios, and GZERO Media to develop audience revenue and engagement initiatives.
As a part of the NYU Design for America (2019-2020) leadership team, she led the chapter’s community-building efforts. She was also the host and producer of Season 3 of the Design Thinking Roundtable podcast.
Being a part of DFA has helped Vora design experiments in newsrooms to support usability testing. “Being a part of DFA projects helped me learn how to transform user research into actionable recommendations,” said Vora.
Krishna Namita Simha
Krishna Namita Simha is an engineer from Bangalore, India. She specializes in problem-solving, technology consulting, supply chain and product management. Her interests lie in ideating for new product & process designs and researching about how Design Thinking methodology allows organizations to innovate. By being part of Design for America, Namita aims to learn the human centred design approach. She is part of the Fiat Chrysler Project as a Team lead and believes in getting hands-on experience in Design thinking.
Izabela Correa in an Industrial Engineer from Brazil. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Management of Technology at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Izabela is passionate about human-centered design and innovation. Her research interests also include collaboration and the role of the space. As a Design for America member, Izabela aims to create a positive impact in her community and in the world while learning more about the design thinking approach.
Feli is a journalist and an aspiring UX designer with a passion for Human-centered design. She is currently enrolled in Studio20, NYU’s program in innovation and technology for media companies, where she is focused on developing innovative products for audience engagement. She hopes to positively impact the new media landscape by helping bring a new user-centered approach to the news.
Carlos Bautista is an Industrial designer from Bogotá, Colombia, who specializes in audiovisual, web, and multimedia product development. His work focuses on new digital media, Augmented Reality and Data Visualization; he is able to turn ideas into projects by using methods as Design Thinking to generate a Human Centered Design Approach to tackle social issues. He has worked in different companies and as an external consultant in several fields such as short film production, web development, and product design.
Sushma Ravindran Colanukuduru
Sushma Ravindran Colanukuduru is a mechanical engineer from Hyderabad, India. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Management of Technology. She believes in experiential learning and being a part of DFA has led Sushma to realize her area of passion that is human centered design and the impact it can have on society. She is also interested in the topics of frugal innovation, the purpose economy and social entrepreneurship. She is was working on a DFA project that aims to reduce food waste.
Rodney likes to learn about different cultures. He loves designing things and bringing them to life by various prototyping and engineering techniques. He is passionate about developing new things. He is fascinated by the Human-Centered design process and wants to use it to improve the modern ways of developing products. He can be constantly found building something.
Tatiana Pilon is a research and development engineer exploring the possibilities within human-centered design and emerging technologies. She has more than 10 years industry expertise in finance & technology and is currently pursuing a master’s in digital media engineering at NYU. She is passionate about innovation for social good alongside entrepreneurship and was selected to join a team of future entrepreneurs at the Bloomberg Beta: Future Founders program.
Rajni Chada loves to apply her academic knowledge of Mechanical Engineering and Technology Management for social welfare. Prior to her Masters, she pursued her passion working as a sustainability consultant to promote energy efficiency through research and collaborations. She believes in the power of Human Centered Design in making positive changes in our community. She has been associated with DFA for a year working on the BINDI project to design a toolkit that helps empower women in low income backgrounds.
Emma is a at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study graduate where she was a member of the Dean’s Honor Society and is creating an interdisciplinary major she calls, “Urban Food Sustainability and Food Justice.” Before serving on NYU DFA’s Eboard, Emma co-led The NYU FREEdge project which aims to tackle interrelated issues of food waste and food insecurity on college campuses. As a traveler and an artist, she is passionate about learning from other cultures and integrating a cross-cultural perspective to enhance her work in social impact design.
Srishti is an Integrated Digital Media Graduate student at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Prior to her masters she worked with start-ups in India and has a background in Product management and development. She is keen on exploring how design thinking and technology can impact human lives.
Sara is an experience designer and a science educator. She is currently a second-year Master’s student at the Integrated Digital Media program at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. Her thesis work focuses on how to bridge the gap between environment-behaviour research and environments design. At NYU, she is also a fellow in an NSF-funded program in collaboration with NYU Steinhardt, where she adapts STEAM curriculum for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Following her passion for science education, she is currently working on an underwater Virtual Reality (VR) experience aiming to inspire kids about ocean conservation and funded by National Geographic. Previously, as an assistant researcher in the Astrophysics department at the American Museum of Natural History, she investigated the properties of low-mass stars called brown dwarfs. She graduated cum laude from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College with a Bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in dance.
Crystal M. Pang
Crystal M. Pang graduated from NYU Gallatin, where she studied the intersection of marketing and design.She is interested in how brands strategically craft their story to connect with their customers using new media, data, and design. She has worked in city government, an education non-profit, a health-tech startup, numerous entertainment companies, and most recently at a consulting firm to improve business’ customer experience.
Shannon Holloway is a User Experience (UX) Researcher based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is passionate about solving complex problems with human-centered design methods. She led interdisciplinary teams to develop high-impact and inclusive research strategies, translate research findings into actionable insights, and deliver delightful user experiences. She is currently at Google, and drives broad inclusive research initiatives across G Suite products to further Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
Shuling loves to apply consumer psychology concepts to organizations’ strategic decision making processes. She is also very interested in combining psychology concepts and human center design process to optimize the functions of designed products and services. With her experience in DFA, she believes that conducting a good design research is the key to a successful design. She has been associated with DFA for a year working on the FCA sponsored shared mobility project and the NYC court signage project
Amira is a senior concentrating on Integrated Digital Media and Business Studies at NYU’s School of Engineering. As a full-time student exploring the intersection of engineering, technology, and art throughdesign in and outside of the classroom, Amira loves to collaborate on projects that embrace the symbiosis between the technical and the artistic. She is especially passionate about utilizing human-centered design for social impact and teaming up with design-thinkers who have diverse backgrounds and interests in order to design more innovative solutions to real-world problems and expand her perspective along the way.
Tuba Naziruddin is an advocate of altruism, strongly believing in helping and giving back to the community. With her techno-management background, MBA, Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Technology she is actively engaged in research, pro-bono consulting and projects aimed towards community building. She is part of the DFA team combating food insecurity-The NYU Freedge. She is a polyglot speaking five languages and enjoys learning about diverse cultures. Her mantra is “Be as open as you can to learning, the rest will follow on its own”. Inspired by the Human Centered Design process, she is currently working on a start-up idea.