Systems Design Thinking Program


Qian Yu


User Experience Designer

Qian Yu recognizes the potential of design—not only in the commercial realm of products and transportation, but also in improving the experience of everyday life.

. Before graduating with his MFA in integrated design, Yu was hired as a user experience designer for Cisco in San Jose.

“My job as a UX designer is to create a product from a user’s perspective,” explained Yu, recipient of the CCS Excellence in Graduate Studies Award. “Cisco creates products and experiences that connect great minds with powerful solutions. Innovation is key as we are defining the future of collaboration! So far, it’s been a great adventure.”

Yu has been busy working with project managers and engineers on a product scheduled for release later this year. He can’t reveal the details yet, but shared that his process closely followed the approach he learned at CCS; design stands at the sweet spot of connecting and balancing desirability, feasibility and viability.

“CCS taught me how to dig deeper into the design process to really get at the heart of the problem.”

“Good design involves more than the physical aspects of a product; it’s about the experience. That’s why each stage of the process is so critical.

“Before coming to CCS, I earned an undergraduate degree in engineering and industrial design from Jilin University in China. My focus was on the product. Initially, I wanted to study transportation design during my graduate program, then I started talking to people from other departments and realized there were so many other ways I could apply what I was learning.”

While Yu was a student at CCS, he was involved in several projects that challenged him to “think bigger.” He designed an interactive language tool for people trying to learn Chinese, worked on service design projects that dealt with ageism, seniors' isolation issues and homelessness, and devised a social media tool that integrated online and offline activities for students dealing with depression and anxiety. During his second year at CCS, Yu worked on MySpark, a sponsored project between the College and General Motors (Chevrolet). Their concept received first prize and was featured in Metropolis Magazine.

“Our goal was to create a unique user experience for millennials in the US,” said Yu. “Based on a large amount of primary and secondary research, we decided to focus on the travel/tourism industry. This project involved secondary research about mega trends and millennials and primary research interviewing target users and using our data to develop character profiles. In the end, we created a personalized rental car system and presented the experience via various tools, such as user journey map and video storytelling. This experience offered me invaluable insight into the importance of research when it comes to generating solutions. It’s a lesson that continues to impact the quality of my work at Cisco today.”

When he’s not busy designing, Yu enjoys spending time in nature as a contrast to his fast-pace work environment. He always returns “fully charged” and ready to face the next challenge.

“I think every designer dreams of one day opening their own studio or starting their own business,” said Yu. “But for now, my goal is to be a sponge—to stay on top of what’s happening in the tech world and learn as much as I can.”