About Maelstrom

IBM Design’s premier internship experience, known as Maelstrom, saw student-designers from all over globe come to Austin to live the 10-week long incubator program that was run three times a year. During Maelstrom, I challenged the Maelstromers' preconceptions of what they were capable of accomplishing extremely short periods of time—all while surrounded by strangers who would quickly become respected peers.

During my 4 years as the design advocate and educator in the Maelstrom lead role, I facilitated more than 100 workshops and curated and managed over 45 projects ranging in design spaces from Healthcare to emerging tech like Quantum. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me to learn and to guide the team dynamics, global visual direction, and interaction models for each project outcome.

The Maelstrom Program proudly boasts a Webby Award and co-ownership of a Core77 Design Award for the category of “Design Education Initiative Professional”.

Program Specs

Duration: 4 years (10 weeks per session, 3 times a year) My Role: Program Lead—wrangled stakeholders, defined educational and professional curriculum
Team: 1 Program Lead, 1 Operations Manager, 1 HR Liaison, 12 Project Sponsors, 160+ interns
Additional projects can be found here: MetaOcean, OK2Talk, Tempo, World Community Grid

Maelstrom's First Graduating Class at IBM HQ, Armonk NY, Aug. 2014

Maelstromers practicing design thinking

Maelstrom interns were able to prepare for their arrival through the Preboarding Website

Environment Design for Maelstrom. Each session began with the interns being greeted with a bare space. I would observe them building their space to see how they would behave when designing under pressure.

I drew dry erase portraits for every incoming Maelstrom class

Portrait detail

Maelstromer Survival Bag Contents - Each session began with them receiving Austin-specific items to help them acclimate.

Halloween Maelstrom Playbacks

Once per session Maelstrom interns would sit down senior IBM leadership. Here they are with IBM MarComm SVP, Jon Iwata

Every week, the interns would playback to their project stakeholders and often to key members of the design studio.