Our initial team meeting at Independent Brewing Company!

1/18–1/22: Meeting The Hybrids!

For the next few months, we will be working on a semester long project sponsored by Microsoft. Our project brief urges us to design on the theme “Intentional Design for Positive Cultural Impact in Mixed Reality,” which is what we will be exploring through design research and design making.

Team Members

Irene Alvarado: I’m a designer and creative coder based in Pittsburgh and NYC. I believe in approaching big problems with an interdisciplinary mindset and in constantly learning by doing through rapid iteration. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela I moved to the US to attend Columbia University, and started out halfway in the arts (history) and halfway in engineering (computer science). I completed a double BS/BA degree and after college joined a small passionate team at a tech think tank helping companies think through their tech strategy. Now I am working towards a master in Human Computer Interaction and Emerging Media at Carnegie Mellon University.

MacKenzie Cherban: I am currently working towards a Master of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, with a focus on design for interaction. I have always believed that design has the power to change the world, whether that be subtly or monumentally. I began my career as an art director and designer, helping clients bring ideas to life in new and creative ways. During the first few years of my professional career I found myself attracted to other areas of the design and advertising worlds — strategy and research, user experience, and advance technology. Being ever curious, I began to wonder how might technology, design, and human life be intertwined. Specifically, I am interested in exploring the intersection of technology and disability, in particular those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and how that might create a more accessible world for everyone. I like to approach problems with a whimsical lens, creating designs that elicit emotional responses.

Meric Dagli: I am a designer and a researcher, and my goal is to design for interactions that enhance the bond between humans and their surroundings. I am currently pursuing a Master of Design in Design for Interactions at Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design. I am also an undergraduate alumnus of the Department of Industrial Design, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara. Being a tech-savvy designer, I am interested in how people unlike me, can embrace the technology or change in general if it is good for them. In order to dive deep in this, I am currently interested in how (interaction) designers can “design for trust” in order to enhance the adoption of their technology-driven products or experiences.

Rossa Kim: I started my Bachelor’s in Painting and moved to Graphic Design. I worked in a museum to teach high school artists, a design agency where I designed print to web, and an NGO organization which inspired me to learn more about the social aspects of design and how design can bring positive social impact to our society.

Julia Petrich: I’m an Master of Design Candidate at Carnegie Mellon University. I was initially drawn to the ways all design communicates and to the means by which our design decisions reflect upon our values. I come from an undergraduate background in writing and have worked in book publishing, so I use the skills I’ve acquired to make my ideas understood through storytelling, strong narrative structure, and character development. Words have always been my go-to method of synthesis and argumentation, but studying design has pushed me to find more ways to connect the visual with the verbal. I am currently interested in exploring how we might design interventions for stress culture in university environments.

Brainstorming Interests in Mixed Reality

In an initial brainstorm, our team discussed areas of interest related to mixed reality, from applications to users, advantages to complications, and more. Our initial thoughts touched on the range of experience of mixed reality: the physical senses and health, the mental and the cognitive, emotion and empathy, and the social and interactive.

Our Team Contract

Before getting started on the project, we laid out a team contract:


  • Make a working prototype and get to a point where we can begin to test and evaluate our concepts
  • Establish an area of interest early on that we are all excited about
  • Stay enthusiastic and correct course if needed to reignite our interest
  • Create something we’re proud of showing to the world


  • Maintain a work/life balance
  • Work smart not long; our meetings should be efficient
  • Be punctual
  • Respect personal preferences in schedules/sleep/work style
  • Be open — to ideas; to justifications; to creativity and discover, no matter what point in the project
  • Focus on skills sharing — we all want to learn from each other and want to make time to do so

Policies & Procedures

  • “Yes, and…” as a policy, so as not to shut down each other’s ideas
  • Kill our darlings
  • Accept constructive criticism
  • Raise issues early (before they become problems)
  • Set an agenda before meetings, send out action-items/to-dos after the meeting ends
  • Updates to contract can be added and voted in at any time
  • Blog writers rotate


  • If issues are not solved one-on-one, bring it up to the whole group
  • If they remain issues, we will involve the instructors
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