Experience Design and Information Design & Data Visualization (IDDV) students at Northeastern University achieved a significant milestone in their academic journey by defending their MFA theses. The defense sessions took place on April 5 and April 7, with seven students presenting their research to their advisors and peers.
Each student was given 15 minutes to present their findings, followed by a panel discussion. The presentations were attended by numerous fellow students and faculty members who came to show their support, some even bringing flowers to celebrate their colleagues’ accomplishments.
Dominique Alvarado, who explored the topic of “What is home?” described her experience as “passionate, sentimental, and expressive.” Not only was the thesis a lengthy process, but she was also able to share the stories of other people and her own. “On the more spiritual side, I felt as if my loved ones were with me on that day, as if my ‘home’ had never left,” she added. The most exciting part of her thesis project, she said, was hearing diverse personal experiences of the notion of home and designing eight prototypes.
“I felt excited, nervous, and supported on the defense day,” said Joli Holmes, a student whose thesis focuses on algorithmically informed decision-making. She said that although students began their thesis projects last September, it was challenging to narrow down their research direction as the scope was broad, and the time was limited.
Yue Yu also experienced some nervousness on the day of her defense when she realized there was a larger audience than she anticipated. Her thesis project utilizes experience design methods to aid couples in overcoming the challenges of having conversations about sex. She encountered difficulties in finding willing participants to interview due to the sensitive and personal nature of the topic. Despite these obstacles, Yu expressed her gratitude to those who participated in her research and accepted her interview.
Reflecting on their experiences, the students advised future thesis writers to begin their projects as early as possible, which would help them avoid struggling at the last minute. They also suggested future students build relationships and have conversations with their fellow Northeastern faculty and colleagues because they are here to help.
Alvarado also mentioned the significance of self-care during the stressful thesis project, encouraging students to indulge in enjoyable activities to seek inspiration.“Don’t feel that you can’t do this because you can, If others can then why can’t you?”.
A full list of students and the title of their thesis
“Seeing Sonic Styles”
“To: You: Reflexiona, Unetey Comparte la travesía de tú vida”
Deconstructing Beauty: Using AI to Highlight Bias in the Fashion Industry
Rebuilding Community Resilience through Online Community Design: Responding to the Needs of Aging Populations in Crises
“Risky Code: A Digital Workshop to Educate Participants and Facilitate Deliberation about Algorithmically Informed Decision-Making”
“Interlunar: Experience Design for Difficult Conversations about Sex between Couples”
“Graphic ‘Multicellularity’: A Framework for Classifying and Deconstructing Composite Visualization”
Photos of students’ thesis projects