I have always been a curious person who loves to ask questions, conduct research and experiments, and use what I learn to solve hard problems. I apply a first principles approach, and when I don't find a solution I'm satisfied with, I invent one.
As a child, my inquisitive nature led me to wonder how I could use technology to solve difficult problems. And this, in turn, led me to the creative work of designing, building, and programming robots and machines. For my senior year project in high school, I created a robot that autonomously located and extinguished a flame at the 2008 Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest. A few years later, I co-authored a journal paper on a new design for a clamp that positions sensors in highly precise measurement and fabrication machines.
As an engineering student, what I enjoyed most about my class and research projects was the creative work—solving problems via sketching, prototyping, experimenting, building, and programming. I imagined that engineers in industry did the same thing, and so I set out to pursue a career in engineering.
In my final year of graduate school, I sought to find a job that lay at the intersection of three of my main interests: user interfaces, cars, and inventing. I joined an automaker as a user interface engineer, and I realized pretty quickly that, unlike in school, a professional engineer does not necessarily have much creative freedom. To my dismay, I frequently found myself serving as a middleman and a coordinator, capturing meeting minutes and submitting status reports. After speaking with others, I realized that these tasks were pretty common for engineers in the automotive industry.
When I looked around, I noticed that my colleagues in design were the ones doing the creative work—exactly the sort of work I wanted to do. So, I spent my evenings and weekends over the course of a few years pursuing a variety of personal projects in user experience design, and I learned the skills I needed along the way. As someone who enjoys not just designing products but also building them, I took a few software engineering courses. Using what I learned, I created smartphone apps to bring my design solutions to life. Armed with my new skillset, I obtained my first job as a user experience designer, and I haven't looked back.
In my current role as a senior user experience designer at Rivian Automotive, I am defining and designing new in-vehicle turn-by-turn navigation experiences. I enjoy serving as an inventor and a thought leader in the in-vehicle navigation space, and I currently have 3 granted patents and 19 pending for concepts that reduce driver distraction and improve road safety.