Student Q&A: Taylor Greenberg Goldy (MDE ’20) and Sarah Kovar (MDE ’21)

 Taylor Greenberg Goldy and Sarah Kovar sit at a table laughing in the Gund courtyardHometowns
New York, NY
Torrance, CA

Undergraduate Schools and Majors
RISD: Apparel Design
George Washington University: Economics and Political Science

Master in Design Engineering, 2020
Master in Design Engineering, 2021

Do students usually work before coming to the GSD?

In our MDE program, everyone has at least two years of work experience. The more work experience you have, the more you can get out of the program. Our cohorts are incredibly diverse. We have people coming from consulting, advertising, fashion, robotics, computer science, public health, behavioral science, architecture, nano labs…. The list goes on.

How would you suggest admitted students prepare themselves before they arrive?

Identify the big-picture dreams you have for your GSD experience and then figure out which classes, professional relationships, and experiences you need to have to get you there. The clearer that vision is, the easier it’ll be to strategically take advantage of the opportunities Harvard has available. Practically, we’d say the best advice is to review the courses as best as possible before coming. Shopping Week is fantastic, but also incredibly busy jumping in and out of classes. If you can understand your program requirements and put together a plan of classes, you’ll go into Shopping Week with a much more focused headspace and get more out of it.

drawing of ipad with text "Let's begin!" and image of caregiver and care recipient under the title "Gem"
Taylor’s thesis “Gem: Equipping Family Caregivers with the Tools to Engage and Care for Dementia” proposed “an interactive, personalized digital tool that utilizes cognitive therapies and creates a ‘learning-by-doing’ activity for new family caregivers to do remotely or in person with their loved one with dementia.” Learn more from the virtual 2020 Thesis Exhibition.
What is advising for MDE students like? Will we be paired with a faculty member to help us define a curriculum of study?
Sarah Kovar making a presentation.
Sarah presents during studio on the topic of water waste and opportunity in California.

Upon coming into MDE, you get paired with academic advisers from both the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the GSD that can support academic conversations throughout the program. In your second year, you get to pick your advisors for the Independent Design Engineering Project (IDEP).

What does the work/life balance look like at the GSD?

Taylor: I’d say 75 percent of my world is work, but this varies among students. The program itself is very demanding, but I also know I need to take Friday and Saturday nights off!

Sarah: I try to take advantage of events happening across campus. I think one of my craziest “only at Harvard” moments was being in a tiny conference room with only 10 students, the former president of The Atlantic, the former Vice President of Panama, and President Obama’s Social Director.

Identify the big-picture dreams you have for your GSD experience and then figure out which classes, professional relationships, and experiences you need to have to get you there.

What type of student organizations are there?

There are loads of clubs you can sign up for at the beginning of the year. And if you don’t see one you like, you can start your own! There are lots of opportunities to interact with students in the GSD and across campus. For example, Sarah is co-leading the Behavioral Insights Student Group that is University-wide.

What are some of the most interesting career paths that people took after completing the MDE program?

Because of our backgrounds, it’s incredibly diverse. Some go into tech, others consulting, product management, UX, and at least one or two people every year create their own companies. For example, Naya Studio was spun out from an IDEP project, and was incubated with support from the Harvard iLab.

What are the best practices for success at the GSD?

Keep thinking about your long-term plan and how you can utilize your slice of time here at Harvard. What is something new you can try each week that you wouldn’t normally be able to do? Our program is two years long, and it flies by.