GURU, CMU / 2010

Guru is a service that helps teenagers discover and grow creative interests and learn about the vast array of creative careers with the help of industry professionals. Guru has two components – a website and a browser widget. The browser widget recommends careers and professions to teens, based on the content that they are viewing. On the website, teens can explore day-in-the-life stories and other content posted by professionals, ask questions of professionals, and share their interests with friends. Guru is based on an advertising model and is free to both teens and professionals.

Top: A video illustrating how GURU fits into a teenager’s life; Bottom: how GURU works

Background & Approach
Microsoft and Motorola sponsored a design challenge in my graduate studio II, at CMU. Using our approach to human-centered design, my team and I spent the semester exploring the prompt,What happens when social meets service?

We started broad by identifying industries and trends to narrow to an opportunity space that had both societal significance and that we had passion around. Art education became our focus.

Problem
Using various forms of qualitative research, we learned that art education is undervalued and misunderstood by multiple parties in the education space: parents, teachers, the government, etc. As a result, teens aren’t getting exposure to the creative disciplines out there and aren’t as likely to pursue creative careers (like design, cinematography, architecture, etc) as they are careers stemming from science or math.

Top: ethnographic research with teens; Bottom left: Quote from a highschool art student; Bottom right: Creative careers teens are unaware of

Solution
Because high school art education, in many cases, is the impetus for teens pursuing creative professions, we ideated within this phase of life. Through this process, we ultimately founded the idea of GURU to solve this problem.

GURU was chosen to be presented at the Microsoft Design Expo 2010. To read more, view the project poster.

The GURU team after our final presentation”

My Contributions & Team Makeup
I worked with a team of five designers – all with various backgrounds and skillsets. My personal contribution consisted of the following:

  • Market Research
  • Exploratory & Generative Research
  • Concept Ideation & Refinement
  • Prototyping with teenagers
  • Presentation content, visuals, and story
  • Visual Design and Marketing
  • Video Sketch Photography