The Tech-Fluent Creator
Erika Bulger '21 carves a professional lane that blends artistic and technological sensibilities.
With a major in visual arts and technology and minors in both literature and marketing analytics, Erika Bulger '21 graduated from Stevens with the hybrid spirit needed to succeed in our ever-changing world.
Recently, the College of Arts and Letters caught up with Bulger and learned how future-focused expertise catalyzes a career that's both analytical and artistic.
It’s great to touch base! Can you tell us about what you’ve been up to?
I am currently an MFA Design & Technology candidate at Parsons School of Design. There, I've been able to partake in a 2021 Quantum Design Jam for a “Quantum Computing” class, hosted by The New School Innovation Center and the IBM Quantum team.
I've also taken courses like “History of Interface,” “Physical Computing,” “Adaptive Technology”—in collaboration with Mount Sinai Health System, assisting people that are quadriplegic—and “Designing for Usability.” I have also been able to intern at IBM this past summer as a senior intern content designer.
How does technology power your professional work?
I work largely in UX design since I enjoy the research that goes into it long before the design process. UX design in technology companies often involves bridging the gap between users and products.
At IBM, I was making a highly technical product like IMS (Information Management System) easier for clients to understand through surrounding materials like educational videos and documentation. UX is holistic and does not only occur inside the software but also with its accompanying materials.
I also worked for over 2 years at Lymba Corporation, where I redesigned their NLP (Natural Language Processing) software for them. This involved extensive research for clients at companies like PWC and Morgan Stanley.
Outside of work, how is your work tech-infused?
My personal projects involving technology include developing an interactive experience that teaches Maltese. In this project, I used expression tracking technology, so when the user makes a face it returns a Maltese saying based on their tracked expression. I especially wanted to play with muscle memory by providing an experience that trains users to associate certain feelings with relevant phrases.
I've also dabbled in generative art, which outputs designs based on randomized code. The works include generative earring designs, generative Maltese tile designs, and pen plotter art.
Does technology factor into your academic progress?
Now, I am working on a final thesis to improve the Maltese transport system. As a Maltese American and lover of public transit, I was interested in using my design and technology skills to improve Malta’s public transport system. Buses have been integral to Maltese culture since 1905, and continue to be the leading public transportation option for both locals and tourists.
My goal is to serve those who have not yet been serviced, like the otherwise unreachable villages in the south or the island’s elderly. I was interested in infrastructure and information design, but also in how design decisions can assist in resolving social issues like classism and ableism.
When at Stevens, how did you find success through collaboration?
I was always learning from not just people inside my major but those outside my major. I was listening to fellow students discussing suspension bridges, prosthetics, 3D bioprinting, and more. Learning more about these highly technical industries allowed me to potentially design for them—as I have done at IBM and Lymba Corporation.
There is always room for designers to provide our technical counterparts with design-oriented insight. UX designers make highly technical products easy to use. Devices like our phones and laptops wouldn't be as popular if UX designers weren't meticulously researching and designing their interfaces.
About the College of Arts and Letters
At The College of Arts and Letters, our students and faculty explore foundational questions and new technologies in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.