Master of Design student
She was well on her way towards a computer science career when she realised she was more drawn to the design aspects of digital solutions, says Hemangi Sharma who came to AUT as an international student from India and is currently completing a Master of Design.
“I did my undergraduate degree in computer science engineering. I loved the idea of solving a problem by creating a solution based on proper research. But after four years, I realised I was drawn more towards the design aspects of the solutions I was trying to create. This is when I decided to choose a Master of Design. I was looking at universities In Canada, the USA and New Zealand. AUT had the exact course structure I was hoping to study.
“Transitioning from computer science to design was a nervous excitement sort of feeling. The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t making things easier. I didn’t do too well on my first semester but then I realised I was focusing more on what other students from design backgrounds were trying to do or what was trending in research. I then sat down to think about what I care about and how I can contribute to my research area. That was a milestone moment.”
Hemangi says this revelation opened the door to her master’s degree and ultimately, the purpose for her life ahead. Her Master of Design research is being supervised by Associate Professor Andrew Denton and Sue Jowsey from AUT’s School of Art and Design.
“I deeply care about the environment, and I understand the growing importance of digital solutions. Through my research I tried to bridge the gap between my previous study of computer science with my ongoing study of design to create a possible solution for the global plastic pollution problem by creating a responsive mobile application prototype.”
Turning a business idea into reality
One of the highlights of her time at AUT has been participating in AUT’s CO.STARTERS programme for budding entrepreneurs.
“I had a business idea in my mind for a while but with that idea came a thousand questions which were stopping me from actually executing my idea. When I found out about CO.STARTERS, I wanted to participate immediately.
“I gained so much from the experience! I managed to finally grasp the starting point of my business idea. I registered my company right after I finished the programme and got ready to launch the company in mid-April. CO.STARTERS was the push in the right direction, and made me take the steps to get my company going. Once I complete my master’s degree, I’m hoping to work in the UI/UX industry, probably get my PhD and someday reach the point where I can shift to my business full-time.”
She wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AUT’s entrepreneurship programmes to other students, says Hemangi.
“If you’re someone who has an idea or an interest in having your own business someday, do go for the CO.STARTERS programme. It brings likeminded people into one room and, with everyone talking about different things, not only do you get to plan your own idea but also learn so much from so many business and life angles.”
Advice for other students
Expecting to complete her Master of Design later this year, Hemangi has some great advice for other students thinking about university study.
“I actually wrote this in my diary when I thought my master’s journey was not going great and every time I was doubting myself I’d go back to this statement: ‘Sometimes you dream about achieving something; a goal. A goal that many others might already have achieved. It still means the world to go through it all to reach that dream because people might have the same plans but not the same journey. Some have it easy – while some have to fight for it.’”
She wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the art and design programmes to other students.
“I would absolutely recommend postgraduate study in art and design. The academic staff are great and there is good support from the department.”