Real Leaders

Leveraging Technology for Social and Environmental Impact with Geunbae

Geunbae Lee is an Impact Design Fellow activating around human-computer interaction.

He, along with his team members Jayanth Mohana Krishna, Jessica Tsui, and Nishant Panchal are working on a project focused on home automation. They are creating a web platform for people to manage their connected devices through the Internet of Things. This project will reduce energy by helping people tailor their energy use to exact needs and will impact the old or disabled who run physical risks by forgetting to turn off stoves or feeling for switches in the dark. 

Learn more about his journey to designing for impact:

Why did you first decide to take action around impact design?
The reason I got into HCI and UX is because I wanted to make change in my community. Most of my previous and current projects revolve around trying to create a better user experience and to discover potential solutions that are far better than the ones that currently exist. I believe that the moment I put my feet forward into this field, I start to make an impact to the community and to individuals who value the products I shape. I thought applying for the Impact Design Fellowship was the next step for me. 

How did you know this was the right project for you to work on?
Frankly, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong projects to begin with as long as there’s purpose and problems that we want to tackle. I think it’s very important to have a clearly defined area and topic that the team is going for because without it, it’s like sailing a boat without a compass in your hands. In order for me and my teammates to figure out what kind of impact we should make in the community, we went through numerous brainstorming and team meeting sessions which helped out a lot. 

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the world today?
One of the critical issues I’ve personally discovered is cultural issues. There are cultural discriminations and gaps between the people in the community which are some of the issues that I’m very interested in solving. As an international student growing up in Canada, South Korea, and the United States I’ve experienced these problems, which led me to become more thoughtful about the issues. 

What advice would you give to someone launching their own project at school?
This really depends on what kind of project you and your most focused team members are trying to accomplish. For me, I initially wanted to make a project with 4 people in my team who could really focus and craft a good solution. To be honest, it made us stronger, more united, and definitely helped us to focus on each of our tasks as a team. I recommend to people looking to launch a project to first find out what kind of project they want to do. As you and your initial members brainstorm, you will definitely see what you need, who you will need, and why.

If you were given an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?
If I was given an extra hour every day, I would write blogs about my experience in the design world and spread my knowledge to others who are working hard like I am. I often write on Medium and so far I’ve gotten great feedback from students and designers all over the world. Writing is something that I don’t feel confident with because English is my second language, but I believe it’s an important skill to have. By practicing through writing blog posts, it will help me get to know more people and help for my own career development. 

Original Story: Net Impact