In NYC, Econ Students Give Presentation to Startup


Darina Huang '23

Alex Tolis ’23 and Preson Leung ’23 present to Morty executives.

In recent years, consumer experience has risen to be a top business priority. This is exactly what 27 students are focusing on in Human Centered Design, an upper level spring semester class led by Mr. Adam Lang, instructor in economics.

The class applies many of the concepts from the first semester Foundations of Economics and Policy class to the real world. In the course, students investigate the best approaches to providing products and services for targeted audiences. Mr. Lang said, “We’re trying to understand what [our clients’] anxieties, ambitions, and attitudes are. Then we can design [solutions] for them from the bottom up.”

Students use an iterative design process, which consists of making assumptions and testing them, as well as analyzing human behavior. Taylor Hemelt ’23 said, “Using empathy is important in understanding the user experience. Instead of seeing problems from a corporate point of view, it’s more thinking about the end user’s point of view so our solutions are the most effective, while being reasonable and beneficial.”

Mr. Lang stressed the importance of creative problem-solving in this course, as students identify issues in public policies, businesses, and communities, and bring different approaches to the solution. Nithya Chundi ’23 said, “[The course] really brings the client in, and we can get into the mindset of entrepreneurs in real life scenarios.”

For the past ten weeks, students have been working with Morty, an online mortgage brokerage company, to identify areas of future growth from three aspects: using cryptocurrency in mortgages, social media strategies, and client education. Students interviewed a real estate agent, marketing executive at Disney, and current and future homeowners to gather insights and data.

On March 31, the Human Centered Design class visited Morty’s office in New York City. Students presented to Morty executives, asked questions, and received feedback. Mr. Lang said, “This was an opportunity to showcase their human-centered methodologies midway through the project, and get feedback from Morty’s perspective.” Afterwards, students heard from Abby Levy-Westhead, senior operations associate, about startup culture and career advice.

The class’ next project is with 3×3, a women-owned social impact design company. Students will travel to Prospect Park in New York City on May 1 to learn about urban planning. Mr. Lang said, “[In future years], we look forward to more embedded work with clients: getting off-campus more, visiting enterprises more, and helping local businesses more.”

James Yae ’23 said, “I would encourage future students to keep an open mind and not jump straight to conclusions, as the design process can be long and repetitive, but ultimately meaningful.”