An Exceptional Learning Experience in the Emerald City

(PS: Disuruh bikin artikel tentang pengalaman Fulbright ama AMINEF. So this is what I wrote, which was published here)

My Fulbright experience in Seattle was among some of the best years of my life. The educational opportunity at the University of Washington (UW) was just exceptional. It was a rare privilege to have studied at one of the top computer science schools in the US. I learnt so much from the unique graduate program I went through. The Human Centered Design & Engineering Master program brought together design, technology, and the study of human behavior. I was taught to combine the creative aspects of design and the study of human behavior together with the analytical techniques of engineering to create innovative products and technologies. Indeed, I felt that I received one of the best learning experiences in the world.

Of course, beautiful Seattle with its jaw-dropping panoramic views of epic mountain ranges also contributed to the wonderful experience in America. Seattle is like no other American city I have visited. It has a distinct, laid-back, liberal feel; coupled with a tight community, delicious Asian cuisine, great coffee, and plenty of outdoor activities all available within an hour or so of the city (although I still dislike how rainy it is!).  Together with the wonderful friendships I made, my time in America remains unforgettable and much cherished.

With friends

Building relationships with people from different cultures

Meeting with Eminent Tech Innovators

In the summer of 2012, I was chosen as one of nine UW students to participate in the World Lab Institute, a joint research and educational endeavor between Tsinghua University, China and UW. The World Lab brings together students from technology, design, social science and business backgrounds; challenging them to create products and services that solve pressing social problems.

The most interesting part in this cross-cultural research project was the weekly visits to leading tech companies in the Northwest area. In eight weeks, I had the opportunity to visit several leading tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and Boeing. I was able to speak with eminent tech innovators and business leaders from those companies. At the end of the program, my team presented our project to an audience of academics, government officials, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists both in Seattle and in Beijing, China. As the result of this research, we (six researchers) also successfully published a paper in ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (Paris, France, 2013), the most prestigious conference in the Human Computer Interaction field.

world lab

Some participants of the World Lab Summer Institute

Working for a US Tech Company

One of my goals in addition to studying at UW, was to gain industry experience by working for a US tech company. In the winter of 2013, this dream came true when I got an offer to work for an enterprise software company called Apptio. I was so excited to get the job. I worked as a User Experience (UX) Engineer to assist with the design of Apptio’s applications and translated business needs into UX that solved real problems.

By working at this company for three months, I was able to apply the skills that I learned at UW, while networking with IT communities in the US. When I returned to Indonesia, this network became really crucial for my professional development.

ux team at apptio

Together with the User Experience Team at Apptio

A Mind-expanding and Life-changing Experience

Even though UX has become ubiquitous in the US, very few people know about this field in Indonesia. I am overjoyed every time I get a chance to introduce UX and design thinking to people who are eager to soak it up. For example, I had a great opportunity to share about UX to computer science students at Institut Teknologi Bandung in November 2013.

All in all, the Fulbright award has provided me with the marvelous opportunities of getting the best education, meeting and collaborating with eminent tech innovators, gaining industry experience with a US Tech Company, and building relationships with people from different cultures. Thanks to Fulbright, I was able to have such a mind-expanding and life-changing experience!

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