Aakash Gautam

I am a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech, where I am pursuing my interest in designing socio-technical systems to realize an inclusive and just society.

I am interested in improvising and developing methods to hear the voices of marginalized groups. Acknowledging that design can reinforce the status quo, I seek ways to support the groups to own the output and engage with institutional infrastructures to bring about desired social change. I leverage participatory approaches that take incremental steps, focused on supporting communities to develop a critical awareness of their existing strengths and surrounding contexts. In the process, I design technology to function as an intermediary in facilitating people to come together, have a say in the process of change, and make moves towards enacting their desired futures. Technology is a means and not an end.

During my graduate program, I worked on two major projects. The first involved developing integrated computational thinking and science modules for middle school classrooms. In it, we deployed curricular materials, including simulations and code-based models, in schools in Texas, Virginia, and Nepal. The second ongoing project involves an anti-trafficking organization in Nepal and the sex-trafficking survivors supported by the organization. In the project, I explore avenues that support the survivors in achieving what they call “dignified reintegration.”

If you would like to know more about my work or explore opportunities to collaborate, please get in touch!