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MAS grad student Xiaochen Yu outside on campus

MAS graduate student creates seamless online experiences for Walmart shoppers

January 6, 2020

When Xiaochen Yu arrived at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, she was led by a determination to prioritize her instinct to hone her artistic skills to the next level. After gaining a background in human-computer interaction as an undergrad and working for some time as a visual and website designer, Yu came to the realization that something was missing.

Parallel with her growth as a problem solver through design thinking, Yu says she had always been seeking resources, hoping to “spread out the very sensation that arts bring to me.” After viewing the holistic list of the courses offered in the program as well as chatting with Media Arts and Science (MAS) alumni, she immediately knew that her instinct had been on point and that enrollment in the MAS master’s program was an opportunity to expand her skills through the lens of what state-of-the-art technology could unfold.

“Regardless of how much I committed to the mission of job searching, the inner voice would always remind me of a seed I planted into my head—I make arts.”

Besides the areas she was originally interested in, ranging from digital illustration to animated graphics to video production, the discourse in MAS has exposed her to a broader playground in the digital media industry in conjunction with the demanding tech field. “MAS has well prepared me as a well rounded product designer who understands the multiple facets of crafting a delightful and immersive user experience beyond digital interfaces,” Yu says.

Joseph Defazio, director of the MAS graduate program, says Yu is and was an outstanding student. “I cannot speak highly enough about her. She was a stellar student in every way and I would encourage others to emulate her zeal, passion, knowledge, and perseverance.”

In the summer of 2019, Yu interned at Walmart Design as a UX designer, working with a cross-functional team to re-envision creation of a seamless user experience for the Search and Browse space on Walmart apps. “This professional experience raised my creative confidence as a junior designer, in which I collaborated with domain experts in design, research, and analysis to iteratively finalize design decisions,” Yu said. She also gained a great amount of quality time for professional growth, including networking, team building, and workshops for knowledge sharing, which offered her a taste of the professional work field and a welcome to the career she was looking for.

Yu says she recommends MAS to anyone having a passion for pursuing a career at the intersection of multimedia production and emerging technology. In the career-focused MAS graduate program, she says she has “had a lot of opportunities to collaborate with local companies and communities on projects to gain industrial experience. With the flexibility of curriculum planning, it’s a fantastic program to utilize the value of an interdisciplinary education to pave the way for a broader domain in technology.”

On top of everything, Yu says, the amazing faculty and staff provides students with incredible mentorship and resources to help shape their education and career. She says the project-based courses she took, despite being challenging, introduced her to the redefined craftsmanship in emerging fields. For example, in an Advanced Visualization class she was encouraged to prototype her creative ideas in Unity, a tool for testing AR and VR. “It couldn’t be more motivating to realize that it’s the era, that we, the creators, are gifted with the best toolbox—the sky’s the limit,” Yu says.

About the MAS program

The thirty-credit-hour MAS graduate program emphasizes both quantitative and qualitative design, development, and applications, and can be completed in as little as one-and-a-half years. Participants will expand their media arts skill set to include UX, UI, UXD, strategy, project management, teamwork, and critical thinking, in preparation for career advancement. Learn more about the M.S. in Media Arts and Science, or contact with any questions.


Media Contact

Joanne Lovrinic