Gavin Basuel Capstone
University of Washington IAS portfolio
Why create the portfolio?
I have recently earned my bachelors degree in the interdisciplinary major of Science Technology and Society at the University of Washington. I had opportunity to work with faculty members trained in disciplines ranging from sustainability and data science to political economy and visual communication. I’ve developed skills in scientific, technological, and social research along with their capacities for critical, creative, and ethical reflection. Now graduating with my bachelors at the U.W, I leave with an interdisciplinary framework centered around responsible use of science and technology. I hope to apply the principles I learned during my undergrad studies to my upcoming career in UX design. Here is are curated list of some of the valuable insights along with notable projects.
Table of Contents:
IAS students develop their collaboration and shared leadership abilities by learning to work with others to identify dimensions of a project, generate and refine ideas, follow through on the consequences of collective decisions, and pursue specific tasks without losing a sense of the whole.
Why Collaboration and Shared Leadership is significant to UX:
User experience and product development is a team sport. The teams I’ve worked on were relatively small intimate teams allowing us to be flexible and quickly adopt innovative ways to collaborate. Teams are typically made up of unique skill sets. Skill sets ranging from visual design and interaction design to information architecture and coding. The philosophy behind a product team who can excel is to have a group composed of a mix of designers. A team that continues to push one another out of their comfort zones and continuously learn new skills. We bring our different educational, cultural, and design backgrounds to solve a problem. There are tons of collaboration tools set in place to help a designers communicate and lead their group. However, these tools cannot replace experience, people skills, emotional intelligence, group dynamics, motivation, and leadership. At the University of Washington, I had the opportunity to work in several teams with students & professors from various disciplines. In my education, I had learned about the dynamics of team building and how to create a team culture that allows for sharing of ideas. In my product development class, we ran multiple Google design sprints working a full quarter with my peers to solve a problem in Warehouse Management. And in Research & Methods, I participated in a full-length scientific peer review process working with peers to produce scientifically sound paleobiology research. With this experience, I come out of college with a unique understanding of collaboration.
Shared leadership is a team who knows WHY they are solving the problem. As technology brings us closer than ever like Slack and Skype, we can also grow more distant from one another. These days we tend to have less face-to-face conversations, and the discussion shifts to long stranded emails. Email & other social technologies used for “communication” hijack our daily attention & energy. I view attention as a finite resource we have throughout the day. Our technology leaves us with a void to fill-managing attention. The attention gap the forces us as leaders to be ever present and to spend quality time considering new methods for motivating peers. But the answer is simple. The answer, according to Simon Sinek, is not technological. Its a series of questions. It’s to start with asking “WHY.” “There are a few leaders who choose to inspire rather than manipulate to motivate people” (Sinek). Shared Leadership is a team who understands WHY they do things rather than — What or How. There is a shared goal. All too often companies and organizations are caught in the frame of thinking only knowing what and how they do things. Down the line, these teams typically run it to problems like a lack of motivation. Instead, teams who know why they produce products are companies who naturally gravitate. A group of shared leadership starts with WHY.
Projects that display this objective
Lesson Learned at the Low Ropes Course — Team Building Winter-2018
One day the team building class completed a day at the Waterhouse Low Ropes Course. First, our class split in half with 12 individual per team, and we participate in a group focused exercises. First was a timed exercise working together to fit all people through a Hula Hoop. The second was balancing everyone on a wooden platform without touching the ground. The third activity was walking across stones using planks. And the finale was combining the everyone in the class at the end of the day to complete a walk across a metal wire. After each activity, we debriefed about what we’ve learned regarding methods of highly effective teams.
Throughout the quarter, our main project was to write a scientific research paper in an area of interest in the field of paleobiology. My topic focused on the dietary habits of canid species indicated by the fossil record. We engaged in collaborative group efforts to refine research paper, also known as peer review. I underwent several iterations, based upon my colleague suggestions to improve the scientific writing and data collection. I had also provided feedback on the statistical analysis, written content, structure, and scientific methodology.
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IAS students develop their critical and creative thinking abilities by learning how to identify assumptions, and to work out how those assumptions inform results.
Why Critical & Creative Thinking is significant to UX:
Design thinking requires both critical and creative thinking. My view on critical thinking not merely focused on the content being study. But instead, the framework and the process of studying that allows me to understand a particular subject.
Higher level education cultivates your ability to be a critical thinker. Now the creative thinking is where we have the opportunity to affect organizations in a way past generations have the industrial revolution have not. Creative thinking helps us learn how to weave our findings, methodology, knowledge, to cultivate new understandings. Critical thinking allows us to explore new fields of information through rich academic frameworks. For example, my major was Science technology and society. For example, this framework will enable me to look back at the history of a particular science or technology to understand social implications on people. One example I provided is my STS research on Autonomous vehicles and their potential effects on our lives. How this technology can shift our conceptions of the function of transportation in our lives. Critical and creative thinking act with one other.
These are processes I set out to understand and gain experience in my interdisciplinary experience at the UW. And as I enter the field of Design & Technology, I will be required to step up to the plate adapt to new circumstances. Circumstances that will need me to modify and push my barriers to knowledge and understanding. In my experience at the University of Washington, the benefit of an interdisciplinary education had been the opportunity to build on multiple frameworks. My broad educational frameworks: biology, chemistry, scientific research, cultural psychology, linguistics & visual communication, environmental history, statistics, product development, geovisualization, and social analysis to name a few. And tying this idea back to User Experience, I will work on projects which span multiple disciplines. I am confident that I can switch between this educational framework and be ready to adapt. For example, when a stakeholder requires a problem in UX related to the environment and requires a mapping platform to deliver information to a group of people, I can be confident. Because I know how to conceptualize environmental history, geovisualization, cartography, and environmental ethics. This is why Critical and Creative thinking will be fundamental in my career in UX.
Projects that display this objective
Machine Learning and Art (creative thinking): Our final project involved a social problem and a visual essay My research led me to the topic of Machine Learning and Employment. The social problem I investigated explored how Automation and Artificial intelligence will cause a paradigmatic shift in employment. My visual project involved a slide show which looks at machine learning and its effects on culture. To convey this, I used an application called deepart.io to produce artificially intelligent art. This combined styles from one form of art and transfer to another. I then asked the viewer to question machine learning and its effect on culture.
Environmental Ethics Autumn 2017: Environmental Paper: Link to research paper
I critically examined Amazon’s sustainability of its supply chain. My purpose was to investigate the ethics behind ecological problems. My research question was: Why does Amazon have an ethical and ecological responsibility? I had researched green capitalism, and Amazon’s supply chain sustainability. I reviewed the literature on sustainable technologies, amazon press releases, and interviewed an Amazon employee who works for the Amazon sustainability team. In my deep dive, I developed an understanding about the dynamics of the Amazon’s sustainability team, and what actions they have planned for their future.
Science, Technology, and Society Spring 2017: Researching a Technology: Link to Essay
The project was to imagine the I am a Science Technology and Society Analysis, and I was asked to conduct a social analysis of autonomous vehicles. I need to learn about what the autonomous vehicles do, which social actors or groups act up the artifact, and how the artifact is implicated in power relations. I presented my argument in the form of an essay in which I explored the above criteria. Autonomous vehicles, commonly referred to as self-driving cars, are no longer some far off invention that we may think of as “futuristic.” The technology is rapidly advancing and already in use today. Whether it be Uber, Waymo (Google), or Tesla, all three companies, as well as many others, have experimented and implemented a self-driving technology. The implications of this technology are numerous, political and social factors such as power (group) dynamics and government regulation or support impact any new technology, autonomous vehicles included.
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IAS students develop their ability to live and work within and across diverse communities composed of multiple intersecting identities.
Why Diversity and Equity matter to UX:
Upon discussing multiple discussions with my mentors in User experience design, I have uncovered the theme that when hiring managers look for people to join their team they are designing with design culture in mind. Design culture, and the word ‘culture’ is a loaded idea. Many companies say they ebace this concept, yet few actually understand why is matters. Asking 5 of my mentors I usually get the responses of some sort of process or a philosophy. From my understanding, this design culture is one that is aware of diversity and equity. Taking this one step further, companies seek to build on the strengths of diversity and equity. In my educational experience, I had the opportunity to understand and conceptualize these ideas through several frameworks. The most impactful experiences came about during a summer class I’ve taken in Cultural Psychology. We had studied the complex and dynamic understanding of culture through the mind of a psychologist. I’ve read a very impactful book named: Clash! 8 Cultural conflicts that make us who we are. Embedded in this framework is the concept of the ‘Cultural Cycle’ that allows us to visualize the complex nature of culture. All said and done, around the globe, cultural difference leads to conflict. Difference, can also prevent people from working effectively, communicating openly. What I’ve developed in my Educational experience is a rich empathy to understand difference. To understand issues from a holistic level, and to ultimately have the courage to be proactive rather than reactive. The benefit of my education was being able to understand systemic problems, and practice to strategize for solutions. In my examples below, I provide examples of my research of the cultural psychology of filipino americans. Second is a project in social research where I anticipate the effects of Automation on society. This project has led me and my peers to ultimately plan a research study on Universal basic income in Seattle.
Projects that display this objective
Cultural Psychology Summer 2017: Cultural Psychology of Filipino Americans: Link to essay
This project was a literature review of studies in cultural psychology. My topic for cultural research investigates Filipino American culture. I study the interdependent and independent selves across the contemporary Filipino American culture. The proposed research will be a structure oriented contextual theory-based study applying the research methods of Kitayama and Markus on Independence and Interdependence selves. There is a gap of knowledge and little research on Filipino American culture. “It is estimated that Filipino Americans are the fastest growing Asian population” (Census 2010). Also, they are the second largest Asian American population an estimated 3.41 million behind Chinese 3.7 million. The value of research in this research can provide further insight into topics like mental health, identity, psychology, and racial disparities.
Approaches to Social Research Summer 2017: Universal Basic Income Grant Proposal: Link to Essay
In this project, our goals were to create an academic research proposal and apply for a grant that will fund our research. In our proposal included an introduction, literature review, methodology and epistemological approach, timeline, budget, and conclusion. I worked in a group of 4, and our social research project the topic was UBI, and the advent of Artificial Project. The idea of basic income dates back to the 16th century, though with the innovation in technology this conversation shifts towards Automation. Automation is the process by which the use of mostly automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or any other production process requires little to no human intervention. Automation is currently targeting low-skilled, hard-labor jobs like working with machinery. Economists predict that implementation of basic income will allow businesses to cut costs, make fewer errors, be more efficient, and replace workers. However, automation is an accelerator for BI and not the primary cause. The purpose of this study aims to find out how unconditional basic income is a legitimate candidate for people across the spectrum as a mean for survival, and the effects it has on these people’s happiness, well-being, and financial health. Our project was to conduct a Basic Income test in Seattle Washington. We would give people free money, and track their behaviors and lifestyle changes.
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IAS students develop their ability to assess and conduct interdisciplinary research by engaging with and across multiple areas of knowledge and kinds of inquiry.
Why Interdisciplinary Research and Inquiry is significant to UX: The field of Design in inherently interdisciplinary. The problems as a user experience designer not confined to one single domain. There is an essence of social responsibility embedded in the duties of a designer. Understanding issues and solving problems with design becomes increasingly complex. Thus, an interdisciplinary design is helpful when solving unique problems that range from the grey area of boundaries we work. Multidisciplinary thinking people created design thinking. Design thinking uses a multitude of perspectives to achieve the sole purpose of design — to find solutions and to bridge the gap towards new knowledge.
I took a gap semester to study User Experience. I could have found a job directly in User Experience, however being mid-way through my Bachelors, I knew I could capitalize on my opportunity. Luckily, in the pacific northwest, we have the University of Washington. Here we have a high yield of knowledge which spans multiple disciplines. I wanted to craft the latter half of my educational experience to allow me to become an interdisciplinary thinker. Interdisciplinary design as a design is those who produce work in two or more disciplines. The process of solving problems solely through the framework of User Experience would not suffice. Design shouldn’t be limited to graphic design and art. What matters is that problems solved through a combination of design, technologies, and frameworks from other fields.
Now user experience is inherently interdisciplinary, to name a few, it’s episteme of knowledge comprised of information architecture, web design, visual design, usability research, interaction design, etc. I wanted to build on these fundamental understandings to anticipate where I believe the skill set of the near future would require. In the industrial revolution of the 18th century, jobs in design could be traced back to work in aesthetics and form and function. The post-industrial revolution of the 19th century, we’ve entered the information age with the spike of gaining access to new information primarily via the internet. Whereas today, following this information age, as expressed through the voice of Jack Ma CEO of Alibaba we will be entering the Data Technology age. The idea that the worth of data will exceed the value of oil. As an interdisciplinary designer, I anticipate the importance of data. Thus, I honed in on my studies to be comfortable with working with data, whether it be statistics, to data visualization, and geovisualization. I also honed in on understanding qualitative data and research processes like social research. I know that these skills will play a role in my career down the line, and I hope to build on my knowledge and remember these cross-disciplinary principles.
Projects that display this objective
Throughout this course, we learned how to visualize data best. Throughout the term, we worked with a data set for your project. In this assignment, brought all our work together to tell a story. For my topic of your choice, I analyzed Amazon product data and visualized Fidget Spinner Sales. I created about six visualizations using at least 4 of the following categories: Time series, Part-to-whole, Distribution analysis, Correlation, and Maps. For each display, I oriented the audience and identified key takeaways.
Interdisciplinary Inquiry Spring 2017: Food Expiration Research Proposal: Research Agenda Assignment Link
This was a final research assignment that provided me an opportunity to explore research ideas I had during this class. I needed to explain my research agenda and how I would execute and apply for funding for research in the future. Part one consisted of a project background. Part two included a project justification, methodology, and timeline. My project title was Case Study: Food expiration date applications, a new indicator of food safety, or a possible contributor to food waste? Why does the contemporary food expiration labeling system contribute to food waste? Do food tracking applications reduce food waste? This research will evaluate the links between food waste, safety, and politics surround food date labeling in the United States. It will determine how contemporary labeling of expiration dates are a precursor for reckless consumer behavior. Also, this research will discover the effectiveness of food expiration apps available for download on favorite app stores. My research proposal was that If we introduce innovative ways of consumer engagement to measure the other metric of food expiration (e.g., accurate app database), then we can reduce unnecessary food disposal and ultimately food waste.
Environmental History Spring 2017: Skykomish valley clear cut history: link to presentation
This project was a part of a class called environmental history in the Pacific Northwest. In this course, we investigated the ecological changes in this unique region, and this project was a culmination of our understandings about the subject. The area of study was the Skykomish River valley, a city in the Cascade Mountain region, in Washington State. We went on a field trip to areas to learn about the history of the region. I conducted interviews with historians, and residents to determine about environmental changes. We learned about railroads, to the addition of roads, to economics surrounding the area. Specifically, my group focused on the clearcutting at a site very near to the town of Mount Index. The company Weyerhaeuser owned this clear-cut place. My project evaluates the changes to the surrounding ecology in 15 years or so. Regarding interdisciplinary studies, we combined our knowledge of history, ecology, environment, biology, and technology.
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IAS students develop their writing and communication abilities by advancing an awareness of the interconnected relationships between purpose, audience, author and context.
Why Writing and Communication is significant to UX:
Writing is the design of words. In fact, there is a growing field with UX called UX writing. Imagine a world without writing. More specifically, image your Facebook feed without text. What makes us human is our ability to communicate. The written word has been the most efficient manner we have as humans to translate our ideas and exchange knowledge with one another. In the university setting, I approached writing and communication in a variety of ways. In several classes, I practiced writing in the language within the episteme of knowledge within each academic course. For example, this means that in my Research and Methods class I learned how scientists transfer their expertise in the form of scientific research papers. How there are processes set in place, like peer review, that engage and evaluate the content you are writing is consistent with the academic realm you are studying. I provided an example of my experience writing a paleobiology research paper.
Again emphasizing that written word is the best tool we have to communicate our ideas. But how do we improve on writing, and communicating? By reading! I was challenged on multiple occasions to read challenging papers, with dense in complex vocab, academic nonfictional literature. I had also read fictional novels. Looking back at how I wrote as a freshman to how I evolved, not only by how I wrote. These reading expanded the way I thought and conceived the world. Reading changed the way I communicated. Looking back, I write today drastically different and dramatically improved. I know now how to do my research, read, uncover the truths within a text, and form a factual argument.
We must also consider how our writing is visually arranged. I spent some time breaking down this idea and conceptualized this through the field of visual communication. I learned principles of typography in linguistics and visual hierarchy. I began to understand the importance of how we arrange our words on the medium of paper. I spent time understanding how meaning is conveyed based on the wording we choose, and the how we organize our words. Written content is critical to UX, and brings to light the significance of my education. Being able to write is an and efficiently communicating are excellent abilities. From considering font, spacing, and lettering to consideration to academic language. These are useful. The ability to communicate is to write, the ability to read is understood. The ability to tell a story is to motivate and leave your legacy. Writing assignments, big and small, stretched my capabilities as a student. But in this process, I had also improved my communication skills and gave me the ability motivate and inspire others.
Projects that display this objective
Research Methods Autumn 2017: Scientific Research Paper: Link to Essay
This class is a general introduction to the practice of science, intended as an overview of the scientific process. I learned by doing, working with real datasets to research the questions that you generate. Since my professor was a Paleobiologist, we used a database of fossils as our jumping-off point for immersing myself in the scientific process. The primary skill I gained during my research was technical and creative writing strategies. I constructed an argument around my research variables. There were also reflective writing and informal writing where I was required to take notes on the subjects. I also honed in on communication strategies in technical writing. How do I adequately inform the reader about an unknown issue? And how do I efficiently provide an argument backed by evidence?
Approaches to Social Research: Summer 2017: Grant Writing: Link to Paper, Link to Presentation
Throughout the quarter we were introduced to methods for social research and qualitative research strategies. By the end of the course, I gained the ability to identify a variety of world views and epistemological frameworks as well as the characteristics of various disciplinary traditions in the social sciences. I applied critical thinking skills to judge which methodology is appropriate for different types of research questions and to address ethical considerations. I expressed my ability to function as a collaborator with others in group work. Last I communicated clearly and professionally verbally as well as in your coursework. In this project, we wrote a final draft for a grant for our topic and research in Universal Basic Income. The structure of our paper consisted of a cover sheet, introduction, literature review, methodology, timeline, budget, and conclusion.
Environmental Ethics presentation Autumn 2017: Amazon Environment Essay
My thesis was: Why does Amazon have a significant ecological and ethical responsibility? I argue as to why I think Amazon has an Ecological and Ethical responsibility as a leader in supply chain management and an innovator in technology. To support the argument, investigated evidence in their efforts to improve supply chain sustainability. My focus was on the top 3 major sustainability themes of the Sustainability organization: reducing waste, clean energy, ethical consumerism. For this paper, I asked an interesting moral question in the realm of environmental studies that was apparently relevant to the content of the course ethics and the environment. The strategy I used was to lay out the terrain of debate. Ethics are controversial because reasonable people can have different accounts of what is “right” or “good.” I dove into these controversies and articulated the standpoints of diversity of perspectives, even if they challenge my views on the topic. Finally in this paper, I took a clear position, present evidence, and reasoning to support your opinions, and consider challenges of my argument.
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About me: I’m Gavin Basuel. I am a highly passionate UI/UX designer with expertise in Visual UI Design, User Experience, Usability, Interaction Design, Product Design, Problem Solving, Information Architecture, Research & Analytics, HTML/CSS and Strategy & Planning. Recognized as a talented problem solver with a unique skill-set that spans various disciplines.