Meet Our New Faculty - Dina El-Zanfaly & Brett Yasko

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Starting in Fall of 2019, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design is thrilled to welcome two new members of our full-time faculty – Assistant Professor Dina El-Zanfaly and Assistant Teaching Professor Brett Yasko.

Dina El-Zanfaly is a computational design and interaction researcher and will be teaching in the Design for Interactions Graduate Studio. She explores and introduces new roles of computational design and making in embodied sense-making including human perception, cognition and experience. She studies the agency of creative modes of production, such as digital fabrication machines, and the emerging social and technological behaviors resulting from introducing them.  

Previously, El-Zanfaly was a visiting Assistant professor at Northeastern University's College of Arts, Media and Design. She earned her PhD from the Design and Computation group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also earned her Master of Science in Design and Computation while being a Fulbright scholar. She is also a co-founder and co-director of Fab Lab Egypt (FLE), the first community maker space in northern Africa and the Arab world. 

El-Zanfaly also co-established the Computational Making Group at MIT, an interdisciplinary research group that examines the relationship between the theories, mathematical models and formalisms of abstract computation and active making of spaces, structures, and human experiences. She has recently chaired Fab15 in Egypt, the fifteenth annual global Fab Labs conference. In summer 2019, approximately six hundred people from Fab Labs from around the world convened in Egypt to share their experiences, research and projects. She has been recently invited to join the program committee of the eleventh edition of the Desform conference, Design and Semantics of Form and Movement. The conference explores the implications of recent and emerging technological transformations in the practice of design.

“I look forward to working and collaborating with the school’s faculty and students,” said El-Zanfaly. “I’m also excited for working on developing the new research lab here this spring. 

“CMU is the place for multidisciplinary research and collaborations. So far, I have been meeting faculty from different schools and colleges and hearing about the great research resources and labs on campus.”

Brett Yasko is an artist and curator focused on Communications and Environments. He teaches seminar and studio-based courses at the undergraduate and masters levels along with "Human Experience in Design" to non-design majors. 

Yasko also maintains a one-person design studio working with artists, curators, writers, photographers, filmmakers and educators on publication, exhibition and identity commissions. Clients include Carnegie Museum of Art, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), Wood Street Galleries, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, DelMonico Books/Prestel Publishing, Princeton Architectural Press, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, The Heinz Architectural Center and Carnegie Mellon's School of Art. He has designed books that are part of the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Denver Art Museum and the Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at Columbia University. He holds a BA in Visual Media from The American University in Washington, D.C. and has been an Adjunct of Practice in the School of Design since 2005.

Yasko has been recognized in design exhibitions such as the Lodz Design FestivalAIGA 365 and 50 Books, 50 Covers and written about in publications and websites including Communication Arts, the New York TimesThe NationMetropolisDwellFast CompanyNPR and Design Observer as well as Pittsburgh’s Post-GazetteTribune-Review and City Paper. His work has been featured in several books, including Designing for Participatory Culture by Helen Armstrong (Princeton Architectural Press), Designing Obama by Scott Thomas with an introduction by Steven Heller and Michael Bierut (Post Press) and Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual by TImothy Samara (Rockport). 

“I’m looking forward to working with the students and sharing how I both think about and practice design,” said Yasko. “I’m also looking forward to learning—from fellow faculty as well as from the students. And I’m looking forward to being a part of the initiatives and goals Bruce (Hanington) will have as the new Head.

“There is design in just about everything we experience every second of every day and the thing I appreciate most about the School of Design is how it reflects this,” added Yasko. “We have a faculty full of makers, researches, social innovators, authors, visionaries and practitioners. And we have a curriculum where a student can choose their own path while still being exposed to so much of what they’ll need to stay relevant, productive, driven and (hopefully) happy throughout their career.

“Wherever that career takes them. It’s a unique, ever-changing program and I’m so honored and excited to be part of it.”

Date Published: 
Wednesday, October 9, 2019