Katrina Heschel, a current student in the Interaction Design Certificate program at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, recently competed in Protohack Vancouver, where her team’s app to combat distracted driving took the top spot.
Protohack events — where teams of up to four people have 9 hours to prototype and present an idea — take place around the world and attract a mix of designers, marketers and entrepreneurs.
Heschel thought the one-day hackathon would be an excellent opportunity to put her UX skills to the test. She signed up to work on an app that would reward people for not checking their phones while driving because she thought it was a strong concept and would combat an important issue.
“Distracted driving is a severe, global problem,” says Heschel. “But I haven’t seen many tools emerging to deal with it.”
Working with partners Aaron Bailey, Graeme Nixon and Matthew Cosar, Heschel put both her start-up work experience and the design skills she’s learned in the intensive six-month certificate program to work.
“My contributions were mainly in user experience, interface design, strategy and branding,” says Heschel, who also holds an undergraduate degree in economics from UBC. “We had a lot of the business case and user needs identified early, which gave us more time to stress test.”
Heschel and her team’s winning app was ten&two, which gamified safe driving by rewarding drivers for every kilometer they drove without checking their phone. Each project was judged on four criteria: novelty, value, presentation and design and the winning team received an array of prizes and funding for their product. With the Protohack win under their belt, the team has been accepted into an accelator program at UBC to further refine their product.
“Participating in Protohack was a litmus test for everything I’ve been learning,” says Heschel. “I am more confident now that I’ve had a chance to test myself in a live environment.”
After she graduates in March, Heschel hopes to land a job in user experience in Vancouver so she can stay involved in the growth of ten&two. Her success at Protohack has improved her confidence in her job prospects as well as her ux skills.
“I feel like the skills and experience I entered the interaction design program with are being pulled through a user experience lens,” says Heschel. “It’s changed how I look at problems.”
Our Interaction Design Certificate program starts in April and September. Learn more at essentials.ecuad.ca.