DFA National is excited to introduce our two new awesome Fellows joining us for 2016-2017! Design for America Fellows empower a network of 1000+ DFA members to create social change in their local communities and develop and deliver human-centered design learning to our 36 student-run studios. Please join us in welcoming Michelle and Deniz!

 

IMG_7027 blog Michelle Baverman

BS in Architecture, University of Cincinnati 2016

Michelle is fascinated by how the design of spaces, products, and systems can affect each and every person’s daily life, and enjoys paying attention to how little details can make big impact. While an undergrad, she founded and led DFA U Cincinnati, spent time in rural Tanzania applying design thinking to local challenges, and interned at architecture firms NYC, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. DFA has helped her develop her passion for human-centered design and getting people excited about social innovation. Outside of DFA, she loves running half marathons, exploring on her bike, eating ice cream, and seeing live music.


Past Work Experience:

  • Design Intern at Solomon Cordwell Buenz
  • Design Intern at GBBN Architects
  • Store Design Intern at Michael Kors HQ

Inspired by:

My high school Art History teacher, Cher Horowitz, the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, and this GE commercial

What does being a leader of innovation mean to you?

The most important thing you can do as a leader is work to understand your strengths and struggles and strive to grow in the best way. It means listening to, empathizing with, and believing in other people, because collaboration is extremely powerful and can make exponentially more impact than just one person can. It means being humble, hardworking, curious, and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

What is your favorite DFA moment?

I co-founded the studio at U Cincinnati. During a Studio Lead meeting this past spring, our team started getting off topic, talking about why we love DFA (typical) and the impact it had begun to make at UC. We had a little lull in the conversation, and then Freshman Michael Rice looks over at me and goes “thanks for starting this.” My heart basically exploded – it’s the little things!

What do you hope to achieve as a DFA Fellow?

I hope to be a friend and mentor to DFA students everywhere, and continue to connect and encourage interaction among this widespread network of awesome people. I want to better understand how human centered design can be implemented in the organizational parts of DFA, and not just the project-related part of it. I want to use my enthusiasm for DFA to make it best it can be!

 

Deniz Alpay

MS in Materials Science & Eng., Northwestern University
MA in Learning Sciences, Northwestern University

How can we better communicate our thoughts across vastly different disciplines? Deniz has been curious about this question throughout her years as a research assistant when she teamed up with chemists, engineers and patent attorneys to design nanoparticles for cancer therapy. Now more focused on systems that are visible to the naked eye, Deniz is excited to help interdisciplinary DFA teams achieve their design goals. In her spare time she enjoys dancing, hiking, and the occasional movie marathons with friends.

 

Past Work Experience:

  • Fellow at Illinois Science and Technology Coalition
  • Leadership Fellow/Coach at Northwestern University
  • Cofounder, ViXa LLC, a biomedical device startup

Inspired by:

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, my first research advisor Cleva Ow-Yang, and a Ted talk called Art of Asking

What does being a leader of innovation mean to you?

I could think of three qualities off the top of my head:

  • You are willing to take calculated risks
  • You are driven, not discouraged, by failed attempts
  • You are exceptionally emphatic: not just towards your end user but also towards the troubles of your team/fellow designers, and your sponsors/partners/funders.

What is your favorite DFA moment?

A team of other learning science researchers and I developed some support materials for a DFA studio as part of a graduate course. These were mainly presentations for using Loft.io to set good design goals, and we targeted a studio that wasn’t very active in using this platform. My favorite DFA moment so far was when we watched a video of the studio leads introducing the Loft to the rest of their studio and absolutely rocking it.

What do you hope to achieve as a DFA Fellow?

I want to contribute to DFA’s efforts towards sustainable growth as an educational non-profit organization; be it through seeking better support mechanisms for our mentors, strategizing so that we can provide the best programming for our teams, or connecting DFA with new communities.