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 started building "robots" and simple machines out of household items and kept my best ideas in a top-secret "Invention Book" that I could refer to when I got older.
Even as a little kid, my product ideas were intentionally designed to help people:
- A talking walker that would remind my great grandmother to keep it with her.
- A simpler TV remote with fewer buttons and rub-resistant ink for my grandparents.
- An intelligent VHS shelf that would light up whichever movie someone was looking for.
- A car attachment that could read speed limit signs and automatically slow down speeding cars.
Empathizing, designing, and making things to help people solve problems became a recurring theme throughout my life.
During middle school I became interested in consumer technology through a good friend who would discuss the latest news with me each day on our school bus. In high school we decided to join a tangentially-related assistive technology club where we became finalists in a national competition and eventually formed a company called InvenTech Enterprises, LLC to try and bring our ideas to market. The adventure of InvenTech was a big confidence boost that helped me break out of my awkward teenaged shell, and prepared me greatly for what I would start in college.
Shortly after graduating from high school in 2011 I used my budding technical knowledge to create a website for my Dad called TinkerTry. Slowly but surely his articles began to help dozens, hundreds, and eventually millions of people solve their IT-related problems and I saw an opportunity to help people through web-based software. I turned Thinkerbit into my own web consulting company and built websites for local clients during my summer and winter breaks as an undergraduate.
At Tufts University I briefly studied biology before deciding to pursue what I had always been interested in: helping people through product design at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts. I joined the Human Factors / Engineering Psychology program and began taking Entrepreneurial Leadership courses during my sophomore year.
After noticing that Tufts' Human Factors program didn't have students practice the full product design process until their senior year, I started a project-based product design club 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 advertise and grow the Human Factors program and expanded opportunities for students to practice both physical and digital 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 in 2017 with an M.S. in Human Factors I began working on Acorn: a small open-source content management system intended to power sustainable online businesses and personal sites. Like any acorn it'll take a long time to grow, but it's a project that I think will help many people both directly and indirectly for decades.