Helen Tsai Harlan
Helen uncovered her love for interacting with people while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She initially decided to pursue product design as a career, because it would allow her to pair her love for interacting with people with her interest in mechanical engineering.
As an undergraduate and graduate student at MIT, Helen was involved in a number of projects that broadened her horizon. One summer, she worked as part of the behind-the-scenes team for a reality-based engineering television show that allowed high school students to earn college scholarships by competing in engineering challenges. Helen brainstormed episode content, conducted feasibility analysis and provided on-site design and engineering advice. Committed to volunteerism, she also mentored students and helped build playgrounds in the Boston area.
After completing her graduate studies, she worked in product and consumer research for several years. The tipping point occurred when she was invited to be an instructor for the Women’s Technology Program, a program for high school females, at MIT. In this role, she taught a variety of engineering classes. Helen marveled at the enjoyment she received from engaging students in science and mathematics. A chance encounter with former Women’s Technology Program students who ended up studying engineering at MIT inspired her to look into teaching as a career.
Desiring to have an impact on the lives of others through education, she enrolled in the teacher education program at Tufts University. Following graduation, Helen will teach physics in the Sheltered English Instruction cluster at TechBoston Academy, located in Dorchester, Mass. Passionate about “fostering interactions between students and community members in industry,” she is eager to begin exposing students to working professionals.
Helen is the proud parent of three rescue ferrets. Her pastimes include knitting and gardening.