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Future of Work Career Profile: Lehua Gray

As a Senior User Experience (UX) Designer, Lehua Gray can provide insight on all the considerations that take place behind the scenes before a product ever reaches our screens. To help prepare students for the growing role technology may play in their own careers, she spoke with the Automation Policy Research Organizing Network (APRON) Lab at the University of Texas at Austin about her work.

One of APRON Lab’s goals is to help students at community colleges and universities understand and prepare for the opportunities and challenges of automation and for careers likely to be affected or created by automation. Gray shared some predictions about the future of her field and optimism about the way data and machine learning can augment human skills.

Whether starting with a blank slate or adding to an existing system, Gray says it’s important to approach the iterative process with an open mind. Advances in data can help designers define the problem on an aggregate level by demonstrating all the ways different people might navigate through a product. Automation can assist with brainstorming, and new technologies can even generate potential designs to consider in the ideation phase. However, you still ultimately need human intelligence to balance needs across multiple use cases and make decisions about trade-offs.

“Bots can come up with ideas, but they can’t really pick the best one,” Gray explains.

Learn more about Gray’s work:

Gray reminds interested students that visual design is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to UX. When working with developers to create a functional product, many different things can change, so you have to be able to explore options and communicate precisely what you want them to build. In addition to collaborating with others, you have to be able to listen and talk to stakeholders to understand their problems. Gray says examples of working through those aspects with real clients is really important for showcasing a wide range of skills.

“You are kind of the voice of those users within the organization,” Gray said. “You are there to advocate for those people and make their lives better.”

Watch for more tips Gray has for students:

This career profile is just one part of a learning module developed by APRON Lab to give educators resources to help familiarize students with advances in technology and changes in organizing that may affect the future of work. Through the support of a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES-1750731), APRON Lab developed a free learning module to help students navigate the future of work and harness the agency they have in shaping it. The module includes recommended readings, slides, assignment ideas, case studies, and exam questions designed for online, face-to-face, or hybrid teaching modalities.

To download the curriculum and read additional career profiles, visit:


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