Chenyu and her group were among the most creative people that I met in my studios. In a group of all cognitive science majors, their lack of programming experience was compensated for by hard work and diligent requests for feedback and support. They were very open to feedback and were very thoughtful in their approach to design. They truly understood that design comes from paying attention to data and what the user needs.

They came up with a fun way for couples to interact with each other when separated by long distances. Their original prototype showed a very imaginative idea with a surplus of functions that were beyond their ability to program, but not beyond the realm of possibilities. They had to reign in their ambitions and showed a keen eye to what was superfluous and what was essential to their point of view for the subject matter.

Their attention to aesthetics and the culture that they were studying were among the best in my studios. The bubbles that they created to contain their messages were a functional and creative twist on the messaging space. The bubbles they created could only be described as...super cute. The bubbles were either normal bubbles that contained messages or bubbles shaped like piggy banks that contained joint financial goals for the couple. They moved around in a whimsical way that I could imagine would be engaging and different for the user who wasn't solely focused on immediate, typical communication. Messaging for some couples can become tedious, but Chenyu and her group held fun as a main component of their point of view and it shows in their app design.

With more programming experience, this would have been in competition for my favorite app of the entire class - but knowing where the group is coming from with their programming skills - I think the work should still be applauded for the focus on user needs and attention to aesthetics. The look of their app was different from any other app in my studios. 

I was most impressed that they decided to take on an interesting and challenging topic, while many of the other groups were stuck on problems that seemed mundane or overstudied in comparison. I admired their risk taking and the effort they put into trying to realize their vision.

Chenyu's effort in the class was excellent and I know that she grew tremendously from the experience. I'm looking forward to seeing what she does as her skills grow and as she works in more diverse groups. I have had conversations with her in other classes as well and I know that she is thoughtful and brings a fresh perspective to each situation that she is in. While soft spoken, she is not shy about about speaking her mind and giving her opinion. 

- Adam Mekrut, Research Assistant & Teaching Assitant, UC San Diego