No Wrong Answers

Senior Capstone Art Installation Project

Providing micro-moments of discovery and reflection to students to help them reconnect with personal purpose.

Somewhere along the path of higher education, it's all too easy for a heart full of big dreams to turn into a calendar full of meetings and commitments, where you have to schedule 15 minutes just to see your best friend from freshman year.

Interested in the problems of burnout and personal purpose, we discovered that it isn't therapy or meditation that helps students recenter, but instead learning how to appreciate the beauty in small, everyday moments.

Inspired by this, we made No Wrong Answers, an interactive art installation to be placed in the Stanford d.schoolNo Wrong Answers is a lasting, inclusive, and intentional solution that meets students where they are to provide them micro-moments of opportunity to snap out of their daily grind, slow down, and reflect.

The spirit of No Wrong Answers expands far beyond the, creating more opportunities for students to access these moments of discovery and connection.

For remote inspiration, every single submission at the installation is synced to our website. As part of the process, we also hosted a pop-up event featuring zines that put a spin on the prompt-and-submisson format.


This project was created for DESIGN 161B, Stanford's 2-quarter product design capstone class. It involved work in human-centered design, including user research, experience design, and rapid prototyping methodology, as well as work in product realization, including software engineering, electrical engineering, and physical design.

My Roles
User Researcher
UI/UX Designer
Front End Developer
Electrical Engineer

React Native


Burnout and hustle culture at Stanford



We began by talking with our peers about success culture at Stanford- a problem that we already knew was prevalent and that we were eager to address via our capstone project.

Through our conversations, we were able to identify three patterns at Stanford that supported our observations regarding the core issue: grind culture.

1. No balance, all intensity.

Stanford students are expected to do everything to the maximum. You're expected to work hard (i.e. constantly taking the maximum amount of classes), but also expected to play hard (i.e. always be available for coffee or a weekend trip).

2. "Duck Syndrome"

The expectation to appear like you're excelling (even if you aren't), is so prevalent that Stanford students have their own term for it: "Duck syndrome," referencing how ducks look peaceful on the surface while thrashing their feet below water.

3. Disillusionment

Stanford students are becoming increasingly aware of the negative downstream effects of the "move fast, break things" culture that has engulfed Silicon Valley startups. These ethical concerns further fuel disillusionment with the expectation to follow the same path: they don't want to be part of the problem.

The problem:
Stanford students feel burnt out by grind culture but struggle to escape it.


What kinds of practices do students engage in now to escape hustle culture and recenter themselves?



To understand how to help students discover new narratives, we turned to peers that we admired for having done just that: successfully broken out of the mold of Silicon Valley's rigid expectations for success.

We asked these students about the personal practices they engage in to discover and nurture their sense of why.

We thought that it would be therapy, meditation, or self discipline, but instead we found that it was learning how to find beauty in small moments.

No matter how they were realized, the small moments that carried so much weigh for our interviewees followed some central themes:

🌸 Finding beauty in unexpected juxtaposition

For our interviewees, inspiration could be found in the big and the small, whether taking photos of ants on a fence, diving into the art history library archives, or the joy of finding something that "doesn't make sense."

💭 Storytelling, both real and imaginary.

Personal and imagined stories were a crucial form of reflection for our interviewees. This included reliving shared stories with friends, keeping a notes app dedicated to people watching, and talking to strangers: "They love to share stories and I love receiving stories."

🌱 Documentation as a practice in self-reflection and connection

Almost all of our interviewees talking about photography and/or their phone's notes app as integral forms of documentation that allow them to reflect on themselves and others.

For all of the interviews, the key moment came when they looked back at their documentation, regularly engaging in a moment of reflection on how they've changed and how their environment has changed.

As inspired by our interviewees, we narrowed in on methods that we might employ to achieve our goal.

We will bring micro moments of discovery and reflection to more students by helping them
🌸 find beauty in everyday moments
💭 connect with others' stories
🌱 engage in documentative self-reflection.


Discovering design principles through low-level activations



Based on the themes in personal practices that we learned about from our interviewees, we got into the field and started trying out some low-level activations with the aim of engaging students appropriately.

Evoking local connection
We put up coffee shop board inviting students to share and be inspired by peer recommendations as a community-building alternative to algorithmic recommendations.

Place-based reflection
We asked students to fill out a web form sharing a memory on campus with a note of where the memory happened with the goal of inspiring reflection on how different people engage in a space.

Emphasis on everyday beauty
We gifted participants a disposable film camera and asked them to fill it with moments that made them happy.

These experiments helped us get a sense for what kinds of threads we could follow to lead us to an effective project, and through them we learned more about the specific design principles that we could use to create an experience that was effective at inspiring purpose.

Some things that worked...

✅ Scrappy, low-stakes materials

Our activations worked best with a low barrier to entry that allowed everyone to participate and that lowered the stakes to help people feel more comfortable engaging as they felt they couldn't mess it up.

✅ Anonymous yet personal

We discovered the importance of anonymity in getting people to open up about personal experience, and were intrigued by how someone's answer could be anonymous to others but personal enough to be recognizable by themselves later.

✅ Specific emotional engagement

We discovered that the small act itself can help someone feel more reflective- that simply taking out the disposable camera would help someone feel as if they're making a statement about what makes them happy. Engaging specifics like campus-focused memories was especially effective.

And some things that didn't work...

❌ Too open-ended prompts

Participants were turned off when they had to think too much in order engage with the activation, so more open-ended prompts would cause them to freeze and/or give up on the activity.

❌ Not attention-grabbing

We struggled to get people to stop and engage in our activations, so we learned about the importance of having a clear motivator for enagement.

❌ Lack of structure

Activations like the coffee shop board struggled to actually allow people to take something away emotionally from the experience because of how crowded and all-over the display was: it was too much work to parse through all of the information.


Based on interviews and prototypes



Based on our interviews and our prototypes, we finished the first half of the class with a definition of our proposed solution:

We will make an interactive, prompt-based, on-campus art installation populated by student experiences.

Based on our interviews, the contents should be driven by...
🌸 beauty in everyday moments
💭 connecting with others' stories
🌱 self-reflection.

Based on our prototypes, the form should be...
✏️ scrappy and analog
🧱 structured
💥 eye-catching

USER journey

Achieving long-term emotional activation through multiple layers of interactivity



Before diving into the details of our installation's implementation, we took a step back to define the kind of emotional journey that we wanted to create with our work by creating a user journey featuring an imaginary student, Ray.

We identified that the key moment in the journey was not simply the moment where the participant adds their submission to the wall, but rather the 2nd, 10th, or 50th time that they return to the installation and are reactivated to consider how they, the environment, or both have changed/grown over time.

Students should be able to return to the installation over a long period of time, allowing it to have a cumulative emotional effect.

From this user journey, we knew that we wanted our installation to be memorable, reflective, and delightful no matter how much time the student spent in front of it.

Whether just walking by or stopping to add their two cents, we made sure that the installation included multiple opportunities for students to walk away with something meaningful.


Arriving at the modular component design



With a deeper understanding of how our solution fit into a larger emotional story, we returned to our design principles from our interviews/prototypes and started brainstorming what the form and contents of our installation would be.

While we knew we wanted an interactive prompt-and-response installation, we were especially interested in how we could create an experience with multiple levels of interaction, and began researching how other artists and designers have done so and how we might be inspired by them.

Form brainstorming:


As we explored many possible directions for our installation to go, we were especially interested in cost and engineering feasibility. While we were a team of four, only two of us had the engineering experience to build the project, whether it included wood, electronics, software, or anything else.

Our biggest constraint was time: We only had 10 weeks left to execute the project.

One example of an idea that we weren't able to pursue was to have an e-ink submission tablet where participants could write/draw their response to a prompt, then to have a large display of e-ink panels playing back the animations of people's handwritings.

Because of a limited budget and limited experience using these materials, we were forced to pivot.


We started by toying around with the idea of having participants answer the prompt by hand-writing it on a card, then hanging this card on a large gridded wall of submissions. In discussing this idea, however, we discovered another core design principle that was personally important to our capstone project:

💡 We wanted our project to be self-maintaining so it could live past the completion of the course without requiring someone to upkeep it.

Using paper cards would require someone to continue producing blanks in order for the installation to continue to operate, and we didn't want to have to rely on someone else to keep the installation alive.

While we considered a reusable material like whiteboard or chalkboard, we didn't want people to feel like their contribution was disposable, so we pivoted to looking at designing a digital installation.


Our next iteration centered on creating a large grid of LCD screens that would cycle through participant submissions, with LCD screens being a cheap and easily-programmable option for digital displays.

We were especially interested in the ability of the digital medium to create more immersive interactive forms, and were excited about the possibility of using something like an infrared motion sensor to make the installation responsive to people walking past.

As we began pursuing this idea, however, we came to another realization about the project. It was starting to become very all-or-nothing: If any of the screens were to break, the entire installation would quickly become less effective as the broken screen would draw all the attention to itself. The wood build plan was possible in theory but would be unforgiving towards mistakes like unevenly cut holes or insufficient mounting for such a heavy object.

While we had put in lots of time into fleshing out this idea, we took a step back to define another possible that we felt would better set us up for success, both within in the scope of the class and for the longevity of the project.

💡 We should make our installation modular so that one failure won't be catastrophic, increasing the odds that the installation can live a long and happy life.


We gravitated towards a more modular version of the mega grid where each LCD screen was in its own shadow box component that could be placed flexibly on the installation wall.

Instead of using infrared motion responsiveness to create a sense of conversation with others' submissions, we opted to make the back of each shadow box out of mirror acrylic so that participants could literally see their reflection in the experiences of others.

In addition to better odds of longevity, this idea was also ideal because it was...

💸 Cheap and fast to manufacture

On-campus makerspaces had all the tools and materials necessary for us to make the boxes because of their convenient scale.

📈 Flexible cost & time

As we applied for additional funding, we felt confident in the flexibility of being able to simply make as many modular components as possible, whatever our time or money limit.

🌿 Space-expansive

The modular shadow boxes lent themselves well to using fewer boxes to cover more space since they could be spread out to take up whatever space they're given. For example, the below images use 20-30 screens while the above renderings use up to 64 screens.

As we continued prototyping this design, we eventually decided to explore using boxes of different sizes that include multiple screens. We were especially excited about the interesting experiences made possible by two unique submissions being displayed serendipitously together.


Enabling remote control of installation



As we narrowed in on the physical look of the installation, we also had to sort out all of the technical components that would be necessary to make it fully functional.

One issue that we continued to ram up against was that of moderation.

How could we ensure that no one would submit something harmful to the installation?

On one hand, we wanted our installation to be instantaneously responsive, we didn't want people to feel as though there was an invisible barrier to their participation. We also wanted to embrace the imperfections of our participants and not censor them, while hoping that the existing submissions would set a kind of behavioral norm for what kind of content belonged at the submission.

At the same time, however, we wanted to be able to step in if necessary to remove submissons that were overtly harmful or offensive.

💡 Connecting the installation to the internet would provide us the ability to remotely moderate submissions.

This would also allow us to back up all submissions, so that if the program had to be restarted or wiped clean, we could simply load in the submissions again.

Making this possible involved incorporating several Arduino libraries that none of us had ever encountered before, alongside all the other new libraries for aspects like the prompt display, the keyboard input, and displaying on multiple screens.

Diagram showing connections between hardware components and the libraries/methods that supported them.


Creating analog formats and spreading word of upcoming installation



As work proceeded to engineer the final installation, we hosted a popup event at a student-run cafe on campus.

At the core of the event was a zine that we designed to incorporate the same prompts in the installation, laying the groundwork for the installation and creating an in-person and analog interactive activity for the event.

Laser cutting the pieces for our installation left us with a huge amount of scrap mirror acrylic. So as not to let it go to waste, we made keychains featuring the handwriting of strangers who had left a sticky note on our coffee shop prototyping board.

It was cute to find a way to repurpose the scrap and allow people to literally take a piece of the installation home with them, and they were a huge success at the event.

We partnered with the coffee shop to create a custom drink for the evening called the "No Wrong Answers".

I also designed question mark drink stencils and a logo for a laser-cut stamp to use on the drink sleeves at the event, allowing every aspect of the event to be a call back to our installation.

The event was a huge success, drawing over 150 student attendees.


Process photos in developing and assembling the installation



As one of the only people on the team with the necessay background experience to execute on the physical build, I took on the task of coding the Arduino and prototyping the boxes with laser-cut duron and acrylic.

My experience with Arduino was pretty limited- I was familiar with using a sensor and a screen before, but I had never created something of this scale that involved managing so many independent parts and involved connecting the Arduino to the internet or an online database.

Luckily, much of the electrical prototyping could be done at the same time as all the conversations above about different formats, since we knew that an array of independent LCD screens would be at the core of our installation no matter how they were organized.

While it was a ton of work to connect everything, it was an incredibly rewarding experience that made me feel much more prepared to execute future projects.

One of the first steps of prototyping was simply finding a library that allowed us to successfully connect our installation to the internet, where all the submission data would be stored in Firebase.

Another important step in prototyping was figuring out how to use multiplexers to connect more than 8 screens to the microcontroller and to independently control the contents displayed on each screen.

Once we had decided on the modular shadow box idea, we were quickly able to prototype an initial square version. Here, the screen is off-center because we were planning on engraving the prompt into the mirror.

Before deciding that we should prototype boxes of different sizes, we did some low-fidelity paper prototyping to map out an ideal layout on the wall and got a sense for size/scale.

With multiple boxes in mind, we began manufacturing more at all of our intended sizes so we could display them at the mid-quarter presentation.

Displaying a set of three boxes together was an exciting moment of seeing it all come together!

Connecting the keyboard to our Arduino proved to be much more challenging than expected. After 3 weeks of debugging, however, it was incredibly rewarding to be able to type "Hello World."

As work continued on coding, we began laser cutting and painting all the necessary pieces of duron and mirror acrylic for the final installation.

Approaching the end of the quarter, I began a weeklong sprint to assemble everything that we had prepared for the final installation.

After assembling the boxes, I layed out each one, labeled them, and cut cord to the proper lengths. I soldered 400 wire ends to prep each one for assembly, opting to put each in a breadboard rather than soldering everything together so that the installation could remain modular.

With the boxes assembled and the wires soldered, it was time to start connecting everything together! It was a long process troubleshooting individual wires and confirming that each screen and connection was stable.

Once each screen was on and connected, it felt like I was watching a small choir in front of me as they all began rotating through submissions.


& a last-minute catastrophe :(



With that, No Wrong Answers was completely installed in the Stanford, prepared to live a long and happy life to students for years to come...

Just kidding.

Shortly after being installed, in the process of cleaning up, a loose cord caught on the leg of a table and brought the entire thing, every single piece, crashing down off the wall and shattering it into a million pieces.

After a weeklong sprint and days away from presenting the installation at our final capstone expo, an unfortunate accident brought all of the weeks of hard work crashing down off the wall.

Most of the acrylic in the 20 shadow boxes shattered when it fell, all of the careful wiring was undone, and some electronics suffered internal damage (like the breakout board serving as a USB host).

Because we had to find an installation time that aligned with the's schedule, we weren't able to install the pieces until quite close to the end of the year. This meant that when everything came crashing down, makerspaces were closed and we had no resources or time to replace the broken pieces.

For the final presentation, we were able to salvage the prompt display along 6 boxes and screens and reconnect them to show a proof of concept to the audience and panelists.

Unfortunately, the now-faulty electronics and broken boxes meant that the installation was sorely below our expectations, so we decided not to re-install the pieces in the

Luckily, I had recorded some footage during the installation's short stint on the wall, including clips of the one, singular student who was able to interact with the full piece.




With the arduous technical process and the last-minute disaster, this was a project full of learnings.

The power of the small.

Beyond the surprising insight from our interviewees sharing the beauty that they find in small daily moments, I was surprised by the power of small interventions.

Since the installation wasn't able to be installed in its entirety, I instead found myself reflecting on all the positive feedback that we received along the way. Our smaller interventions, like the event zine and our experience prototypes, were still able to create emotional impact.

You're more capable than you think.

My exposure to Arduino was severely limited at the start of this project, and looking back I'm amazed at how many technical details I learned in making the installation functional.

Diving into a project that required skills I wasn't sure I had felt incredibly intimidating, but by taking it one step at a time and applying my other computer science skills I was able to make progress. Even without an installation remaining on campus, all of those skills will remain with me.

Life happens, and it's what you make of it that matters.

There's really no words to describe watching your senior capstone project, the culmination of your design education and weeks of work, shatter on the floor right in front of you.

Two days out from our final presentation, however, we had no choice but to get through and it and figure out what our next step was. We ended up salvaging a couple boxes to display at the final expo and spent the day before figuring out how to tell the story of what happened without making excuses.

Luckily, there was one small sparkle of humor in everything that happened that we were able to share in our final expo: As we sorted through the rubble, we found one singular screen that was still plugged in. Ironically, poetically, cruelly, this one screen just said: I love being alive.

We ended up having quite a memorable final presentation, albeit in a different way than we intended at the start of the quarter, and all together it was an amazing learning experience.