Design Thinking

Design thinking is a powerful tool for approaching problem solving in an innovative way that I have learned at the It is by no means the only way, but it has helped me think through problems and think about my own design practices. Here are two projects where I have employed the use of design thinking.

Through a class in the fall of 2013, I worked with Olivia V and Jeffrey S to design a winning concept on promoting creative confidence to youngsters, entitled The Electronster.

The Electronster

"A traveling truck that collects recycled electronics and brings them to kids around the country - teaching discovery through destroying them and using the components to build entirely new creations . Cross-country collaboration with kids everywhere."

We had middle schoolers come in through Stanford Splash, and using things we found at an electronic recycling plant, we had 3 rules: Be safe, have fun, and break stuff.

We encouraged the kids to break apart and open up old printers, cassettes, CD players, remotes and phones and explore the inner workings of electronics they see everyday.

The results were astonishing. The kids were not only eager to break the objects, but they also asked if they could make something with it. We were told that it inspired them to think differently, and be confident in their ideas.

Through the openIDEO platform, we garnered feedback and iterated. We also were able to meet with the openIDEO team for further ideation and feedback.

We were chosen, among hundreds of ideas, to be one of the top nine ideas to be pursued for further iterations.

Here's our page. Here's the toolkit, created by Olivia, that combines all of our work into a handy guide.

College Connection

In April 2012, a young adult, Billy Pagoni graduated from high school in Naples Florida. Billy wanted to go to college and become a chef -- after taking baking class, Billy was excited about cooking and now even is responsible for most of his own meals. After looking high and low, and scouring the internet, Billy and his family were unable to find services that met his need. Many of the college programs that they looked into were for higher functioning autistics than himself, and they were discouraged. According to Billy's mother, “They tell me there’s no place for him. He goes to school every day, he gets A’s in a specialized curriculum, but he’s being denied a post-secondary experience”. Pagoni states that there is nothing for students who have “splintered skills,” for example, be excellent computer programmers but need a subject like geography broken down for them. “We’re looking for opportunities, not handouts. We don’t want handouts from the government. We want our kids to work and be safe”.

At a Yahoo! Hackathon this summer, two amazing ladies and I created a college resource hub, paying attention to aesthetics and functionality. Although we did not advance to the final round of the hackathon, we were approached by Yahoo! engineers to encourage us to continue our work. We made it to the second round of the BASES Social Entrepreneurship competition at Stanford University.

Our product:

1 out of 68 children is diagnosed with autism in the US.  By the time they turn 18, most resources are cut off from them, especially in terms of education and employment. Today, only 35% of young adults with autism receive some college education. Now, how can we make the college transition easier for them? Here, we strive to provide a free website filled with the resources, how-tos, tips and tricks of navigating college, workplace, and life, specially for students on the spectrum.

Welcome to College Connection. This is the main page with a color scheme that is appealing to students with autism. To encourage more students enroll in college, we have compiled a resource center of college programs for different degree programs tailored for students with autism. A map is provided so the student can click the preferred state to start searching for a fitting program.  

Students on the spectrum have a hard time interacting with their peers, professors, and employers. We are providing email and cover letter templates to ease the process of initiating communication with others. We have also incorporated live chat features so the students can talk to each other.