Mandar Bhoyar, a Luddy Indianapolis student earning his master’s in Human-Computer Interaction, was part of the winning team earlier this year at the Streaming Wars Design Challenge 2023 held at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus.
Bhoyar (above, left) teamed with Bloomington students Varun Pimplé and Waleed Zuberi to win the competition. A total of six students from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering in Indianapolis were among those competing.
“I’m very proud to see our students proactively seeking experiential learning opportunities like this outside the classroom, leveraging the career and design events available throughout Luddy,” says Davide Bolchini, Luddy Indianapolis professor and chair of the school’s Department of Human-Centered Computing.
“Working on real-world problems in such fast-paced, ‘sprint-like’ environments contributes to hone fundamental problem-finding and design competences that are much in demand in the competitive UX industry.”
Bhoyar agreed, noting “The Streaming Wars Design Challenge 2023 at HCI/d Connect was a fantastic and rewarding opportunity to test my UX research and project management skills.”
Solving a real-life consumer entertainment challenge
The design challenge was to re-envision what it means to consume streaming video media, given the rising trend in streaming subscription fatigue. “We had to tackle how to make streaming services healthier and generate more revenue,” he explained.
“We only had an hour to understand the problem statement,” Bhoyar says, “choose a design direction, conduct background research for our ideas, discuss the findings, ideate, and prepare the Shark Tank-style presentation!”
Nine teams gave micro presentations (five minutes or less). For winning the competition, Bhoyar and his teammates got a mentoring session with Jon Moore (Principal, Practice Lead – Product Design) and Izsadora (Izzy) Johnson (Associate Product Design) of Innovatemap, an Indianapolis digital products agency.
“Jon and Izzy were very kind to give us one hour of out their busy schedule,” Bhoyar says. “They answered our questions regarding a career in UX, the tools they use as UX practitioners, and successful storytelling methods. It was a very insightful conversation!”
New student ends up a winner
Bhoyar had only completed one semester at Luddy Indianapolis at the time of the Design Challenge.
“Nevertheless, I had already acquired core skills, such as using appropriate research methods and tools, and understanding stakeholder needs,” he says, “as well as my experience as a research assistant in Dr. Andrew Miller’s lab,” where Bhoyar is using his skills to advocate for families going through the stress of cancer treatment.
“I find the research-focused teachings at Luddy Indianapolis to be extremely valuable,” Bhoyar added.
“Research can greatly inform and enhance the design decisions made, resulting in more user-friendly and effective products or services.
“I believe that with every class I take, I am molding into the best UX researcher I can be,” he continued.
“I say this because Luddy Indianapolis offers courses in various disciplines of Human-Computer Interaction that require different ways of practicing user experience development.”
Bhoyar is the founder of Developmental Ladder, which he describes as an interview podcast designed to connect parents and caretakers with researchers and experts (in various parenting topics) to disseminate information in a simplified form.
“I am hugely motivated by the speed at which technology enhances people’s lives,” he says.
“The impact is immediate and very noticeable. Therefore, as a user experience researcher, I want to contribute to technology’s growth ethically, responsibly, and safely while advocating for users through each step of the process – as Luddy Indianapolis has taught me.”