Meet the Class of 2017: David M., Elushika, and Julian

by MFA IXD August 19, 2015

Meet the 18 students who will make up the Class of 2017. Over the next few weeks, we’ll highlight three incoming students. Today: David M., Elushika, and Julian.

David Mahmarian

After seeing his severely Autistic brother master an iPad application to help him communicate, David shifted his focus from visual design to user experience. He became more interested in usability and the way people feel when they interact with digital products. Validating those interactions with actual users through a working prototype has turned into a passion that has only increased each year he has worked in the field.

After five years of employment as a UX professional, David has worked with some of the top companies in Minneapolis, Chicago, and more recently Miami, where he has helped build the prototyping practice in SapientNitro’s Miami office. He has also brought the local design community together by founding and leading the IxDA Miami, a local chapter of the Interaction Design Association. David speaks regularly on the benefits of prototyping and is a true believer in Axure.

There is still so much more that David wants to accomplish and he knows that pursuing his MFA in Interaction Design is an important step in that direction. He plans to use the time researching and experimenting through prototyping methods to create user-friendly solutions that can help people with Autism, and other disabilities communicate.

Elushika Weerakoon

Elushika started life that way, that is, as uniquely Elushika. A completely uncommon name in the United States and decidedly uncommon in her native Sri Lanka, Elushika was destined to cultivate a design perspective that is all her own. When she landed in New Orleans at the age of 16, she was taken in by the city’s lust for life and living in the moment. While studying computer science at Loyola University, Hurricane Katrina’s twin forces of wind and rain propelled Elushika from New Orleans, above the Mason-Dixon Line to New York City. Gotham provided a new perspective and she began to soak in the brownstones and acclimate to the local bagel-and-lox culture of the Upper West Side.

After taking her first design class at Fordham University, she knew that her heart lay in design. Elushika found a calling between the blurry boundaries of design and computer science. During her tenure at a product design firm, she discovered the evolving field of interaction design and became more involved in the world of user experience. Her design ethos is to make things simpler to use, in a complex world.

Julian F. Gonzalez

Julian is a native from Colombia living in Brooklyn, where he works as an art director for Amplify Learning. Working with both the math and science curriculum and development teams at Amplify, Julian has applied design theories to a broad range of interfaces and studied how each promoted student’s engagement.

Growing up, Julian was fascinated by science fiction, comic books, and video games and later went to SVA to study graphic design, graduating in 2007.

As a professional, he became fascinated with the essential nature of coherent design as a problem-solving tool. Recognizing this power led him to examine how design allows what would have previously been considered “science fiction” to become more “science” and less “fiction” in the sense that a coherent and intuitive design can promote additional possibilities for a user to interact with complex phenomena.

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