What have you done after graduating from Bryn Mawr?
Right after graduating from Bryn Mawr I took a few months off and visited friends and family within the U.S. This time off was a really good decision for me as it gave me a break after graduation and helped me figure out my next step, which was to return to my home country, Bangladesh, and start my career in design. I was a math major in college, and while I didn’t end up pursuing my higher studies in math (yet!), it is through math that I discovered my passion for art and design.
In Bangladesh, I worked at a TV station as an animator and graphic designer for about eight months, where I got to learn design on a professional level. After that, I switched jobs to join Grameen Intel Social Business Limited (GISB) as a product designer where I have been working for the last two years. GISB is a social business and a joint venture between Grameen Bank (of Professor Muhammad Yunus) and Intel Capital (Intel Corporation).
We create Android apps and hardware products that help local entrepreneurs in countries like Bangladesh, India and Cambodia provide agricultural recommendations to small-holder farmers and thus create an impact for those at the bottom of the pyramid.
As the sole designer at the company, I’m responsible for overseeing all design work here, including digital and print. But over the past year, I have been concentrating more on user experience and user interface design (UX/UI).
My focus has been on human centered design, not just because designing with the user in mind is truly the key to good product design, but it also helps design products that local entrepreneurs (many of whom not very highly educated and not very nifty with technology) can easily use to conduct their business. The ultimate beneficiaries are the farmers, and so it is important to think “user first.”
Apart from designing software interfaces, I have been dipping my toes into designing hardware prototypes as well at GISB. It has been incredible experience working with 3D modelling and 3D printing technologies.
I am also in my last semester of my master's in computer applications at BRAC University, here in Bangladesh.
I have been doing a lot of fun cool things with design and have had the chance to work with and learn from some incredible designers from Intel as well as from my colleagues in Bangladesh, but what’s amazing is that math and my time at Bryn Mawr come into play in every step of my work process, every day.
How does math connect with your current occupation?
Math helps us solve problems and think critically and logically. That is the first requirement for anybody who wants to become a UI/UX designer. Figuring out rare use cases and trying to logically solve them through design requires critical thinking skills, which you get through math. Designing hardware prototypes requires at least some basic understanding of math. Math has helped me provide logical arguments whenever I have had to defend my designing decisions!
How has your math experience at Bryn Mawr prepared you for your current position and life after Bryn Mawr?
People tend to take you more seriously when they find out you were a math major! (j/k) But in all seriousness, my time at Bryn Mawr as well as my math degree has helped me become a more confident person at work. The rigors of academics at Bryn Mawr is actually a good base for preparing oneself for life after college.
Which aspects of the math major did you enjoy or find particularly useful?
I enjoyed abstract algebra, topology, discrete math and my senior conference a lot. Those courses (and our professors) made me view logic and math in a whole new way and made me push myself a lot. They made me think about math as a pure art form and my respect for math increased.
Do you have any memories of the Bryn Mawr Math Department that you would like to share with current students and/or prospective students?
My sophomore year winter break the Math Department took us to the Joint Math Meeting in New Orleans. That was a significant trip for me because I got to meet hundreds of mathematicians from around the world. Professor Rhonda Hughes won the Gweneth Humphreys Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Women in Mathematics of the Association for Women in Mathematics that year. My favorite TV show NUMB3RS also won an award and I got to see the creators accept the award. I also went to a talk by Tony DeRose from Pixar Animations where he talked about the mathematics behind animation and design. It was there that I realized that I wanted to do design and animation, because I found out that math is everywhere, even in art and design.
Apart from that, spending time at the math lounge day in and day out were some of the most fun experiences at Bryn Mawr.
Do you have any advice for current or prospective math majors?
Our math professors truly care about us, not just about our math education, but also our futures and overall wellbeing. You can have lifelong friends in some of our professors! So really listen to what they teach you in and out of the classroom. Go to their office hours, try your best to do what they assign you to do, and when you stumble (and you will), they’re always there to help you pick yourself up. I used to be very worried about what I would do with life after graduation, but my adviser Professor Cheng was a pillar of strength for me whenever I doubted myself. Trust me there is life outside Bryn Mawr, and it’s a pretty exciting one. What we learn at Bryn Mawr truly does equip us to deal with “real life.” Plus things definitely work themselves out over time!