noah.ratzan@ac4d.com

Student

Noah Ratzan

I am an insatiably curious learner, observer, and problem-solver, and I’m passionate about the intersection of creativity, people, and design to create positive social change.

After graduating from McGill University, I pursued a career in education and worked as a school teacher, a non-profit program manager, and finally as a director for a non-profit, the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program. After eight years in education, I am now shifting to a career in user-centered design where I can better leverage my love of design, strategic thinking, and problem-solving to create better and more effective products and services in the social sphere.

I’m excited for the rigorous, hands-on, and socially-oriented program at Austin Center for Design as well as the warmth, culture and community of Austin, Texas. Outside of work, I enjoy adventures with friends and family, cooking, learning new languages, travel, music, and exploring new cultures.

Recent blog posts

Testing the Podcast Process

This last week has been enlightening as we’ve tested new aspects of our idea’s likelihood to succeed in the market. It’s been similar to a plane in the blue sky landing on the hard tarmac – I’m relieved to be on firm ground, but part of me misses the view and floating in the air. This is where the…

Soul of the City – ATX

Welcome back to the Studio. This blog post is a continuation in a series that tell the story of our Studio class project. We are working together with the City of Austin to develop solutions to improve civic engagement in Austin. For more details, read my last post on the civic engagement project. Recap This past…

Reconnecting the City

Phase 1: Research & Synthesis Last quarter, our cohort partnered with the City of Austin to improve civic engagement for the city’s residents. We interviewed fifty-two residents to better understand the state of civic engagement in Austin over those eight-weeks, and now we are leveraging that research to create solutions that will improve lives for residents…

Redesigning for a Product Acquisition

Congratulations! Your banking company just acquired a financial modeling company, and now it’s necessary to integrate their products’ capabilities into your banking company’s mobile app!   This is the message our instructor, Jon Kolko, presented to us last week. It was a surprise feature change, and it’s not uncommon in industry to hear such news.…

Understanding East Austin Homeowners’ Experiences: A Research Update

This quarter, AC4D partnered with the City of Austin to answer the question of how to improve civic engagement in the Austin. We formed three teams to each explore and learn more about different facets of civic engagement in Austin, and this post provides an update of the project and my team’s work to date. What…

Rapid Prototyping: A One Week Redesign

As mentioned in my recent banking application redesign blog post, we are developing a mobile banking app in our Rapid Ideation and Prototyping class. We just finished our first round of redesigning the system, and we’ll be completing four more redesigns before the end of the term. Each one-week redesign entails a full sweep of revising and expanding…

Concept Mapping for Banking Applications

One of the most important skills a designer can develop is the ability to untangle and synthesize understanding about systems and complex concepts. In our first assignment for the Rapid Ideation and Prototyping class, we continued our development of this skill through the creation of concept maps. Concept maps are representations that convey ideas, processes, comparisons, relationships, and other…

Design as a Liberal Art

These past few weeks, our class at the Austin Center for Design focused on the question that in a way is at the heart of this program – “What is Design?” This question has become more prevalent over the last century as thinkers like Dewey and others have wondered if the art/science of design is…

Designing a (truly) more connected society

During the past week, our cohort tackled learning about a challenging topic –  poverty. Poverty is, as Horst Rittel would call it, a “wicked problem”. It’s a problem whose boundaries escape definition, and it’s a problem that has no definite solution either. This is a problem so systemic in its nature that it seems to be connected to everything, and everyone, in…

From Systems to Experience: Shfiting Perspectives of Research

Before I came to AC4D, I spent six years working at a non-profit called the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP). At CPEP, I went from teaching classes to middle school students in the CPEP educational science and math summer program to managing that summer program. I eventually shifted to managing the CPEP organization while serving as…

Writing a narrative on User Research

This is the second project for theory class, and it feels like it’s the tenth. The pace at AC4D has been exhilarating and exhausting, and without a doubt it’s been educational. In theory class we’ve dived deep into several readings, and after each set of readings, we’ve been tasked to create a comic to illustrate…

A glimpse inside the kitchen

From the outside, the building is unassuming – brick, short, and with a simple, flat facade. As we walked through the front door, however, we immediately heard the chatter of teachers in the school cafe and the clanking of dishes, the whirring of washers, and the banging of ovens in the cafeteria kitchen. We began our…

Design on Trial: Designer’s Responsibility for their work

This story is about the responsibility of designers. It isn’t common to hear of a designer going on trial because his or her design caused harm, but through this course and the associated readings about design and it’s responsibility to society, it seems that it is critical to reflect on designer’s responsibility. Perhaps one day designers…

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