Ariel Shostak

San Diego, CA, US
Field of Work 
Mechanical Engineering
human centered design, product development, toy engineering
Lily Pi
Job Title or "Student" 
product development consultant
Northwestern University
Engineering Design and Innovation
Education Level 
Profile Biography 
Hi, I'm Ariel and I'm a toy engineer!

Although that was not my initial plan when I got my bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Growing up, I enjoyed math and science. The biggest trophy I ever won was for 2nd place in a math competition in 5th grade (yes, I took math tests for fun in my free time for the chance to win trophies when I was in elementary school)! I also loved doing science experiments and arts projects, and also singing, dancing, acting, and playing musical instruments.

While learning calculus and physics in high school I learned that engineering is a way to apply math and science to solve problems and improve lives, and I knew that was for me! The idea of designing consumer products appealed to me, and when I learned about Human Centered Design (also known as Design Thinking), I knew that's what I wanted to do since it is a blend of my technical and artistic interests!

However, I strengthened my technical background while developing telecommunication infrastructure products at Motorola before getting a Master's degree in Engineering Design and Innovation at Northwestern, which emphasized the Design Thinking approach. As engineers, it's important to understand how the products we create will be used (and possibly misused) so we can optimize the positive impact.

I have been developing different types of products for 15 years-- from government and public safety communication products, to consumer electronics, toys (including Happy Meal Toys), and baby gear.

While my work can be technical, I express my creativity in my free time, from writing about concerts and bands for a local music publication, creating and exhibiting photography art, and performing Flamenco dances.

Throughout my career I have enjoyed speaking to young people about STEM, mentoring students, and sharing my experiences and journey as a professional engineer in different industries. The most fun way I speak about STEM is through toy engineering. I have developed and taught curriculum on toy engineering to middle school students, including Design Thinking principles to help guide students to invent their own toys and games. I also have taught reverse engineering of toys and used Happy Meal toys to make STEM concepts very relatable.

I look forward to mentoring more young people in STEM!
Race & Ethnicity 
Level of Participation 
After-school visit, Field trip participation, In-school visit, Online role model, Summer camp visit
My Experience 
I am a new Role Model.
Career exploration activities, Fun demonstrations or materials, Hands-on activities for students, Online Mentoring (email or Skype)
Program Affiliation 

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