Around the age of 5 I decided that I wanted to be an inventor like Stu Pickles from the TV show Rugrats when I grew up. I would built "robots" out of household items to help my Mom, and I kept my best ideas in a top-secret "Invention Book" that I could refer to when I got older. Most of my ideas were intended to help improve the lives of people I knew:
- A talking walker that would remind my great grandmother to keep it with her
- A simpler TV remote with fewer buttons for my grandmother
- A device that would show exactly where to find the right VHS/DVD on a shelf for my grandfather
- A device that could read speed limit signs and automatically slow down speeding cars to protect my family
Empathizing, designing, and making things to help people solve problems became a recurring theme throughout my life.
During middle and high school my interest in videogames gradually shifted to consumer technology. Every morning I would read the latest tech news on my computer and talk about it with a good friend of mine on the school bus. As sophomores we decided to join a new assistive technology club, which ended up helping me break out of my awkward shell and contribute to the formation of InvenTech Enterprises, LLC.
Shortly after graduating from high school I used my budding technical knowledge to create a website for my Dad called TinkerTry and a smaller blog of my own called Thinkerbit. My Dad's articles began to help dozens, hundreds, and eventually millions of people solve IT-related problems and I learned a ton about web development in order to keep the site running smoothly. I turned Thinkerbit into my own web consulting company and built websites for a few more clients during my summers as an undergraduate.
At Tufts University I studied biology as a freshman until Steve Jobs' commencement address convinced me to pursue what I was more interested in: helping people through good product design that combined technology with liberal arts and psychology. I joined the Human Factors / Engineering Psychology program and began taking Entrepreneurial Leadership courses as well.
After noticing that Tufts' Human Factors program didn't have students practice the full product design process until their senior year, I co-founded a project-based product design club of my own called Tufts MAKE. Together with a small group of friends we taught practical skill-based workshops and practiced the process of product design by de-creaming Oreos, creating a Tufts-themed web app, and eventually building a BB-8 droid. Our efforts helped grow the Human Factors program and expanded opportunities for students to practice product design and physical prototyping much earlier than previously possible. My work as Tufts MAKE's leader and Human Factors advocate earned me a graduate scholarship to work with Tufts' Center for Engineering Education and Outreach to build a new web-based platform called the Maker Network.
After graduating from Tufts with an M.S. in Human Factors I began working on the roadmap for Acorn; a small content management system intended to power sustainable online businesses and personal sites. Like a real acorn it'll take a long time to grow, but it's something I plan to continue working on for decades.