Designing Her Environment

The first time Ketaki Deo saw her app for the deaf put to use, she hit her first high. And it has amplified her career ever since.

While a graduate student at Georgia Tech, Deo worked with Professor Thad Starner to develop an app for the deaf to communicate directly with 911 operators in real-time. The app transmits text-based communication from the deaf to an operator over a voice channel. The project was Deo’s first exposure to user experience design, and she was hooked.

“This was the first time I tested a prototype with real users,” Deo said. “It made me realize the importance of creating accessible technology.”

Now Deo does this for a living at LinkedIn, where the 2010 MS CS alumna builds user experiences as a web developer.

Deo says she is inspired by her dual love of technology and beauty in nature, both of which began at a young age. Her parents nurtured Deo’s love of technology until it blossomed into a viable career option.

“[Having] encouraging parents—and my dad being a software engineer—played a big role in who and what I am doing today,” Deo said.

She came to Georgia Tech from India and embraced the opportunity for frequent collaboration with other faculty on campus. In addition to working with Starner, Deo built next-generation converged applications with Russ Clark and Matt Sanders of Georgia Tech’s Research Network Operations Center.

“Ketaki was one of those students who took advantage of the opportunities given to her and made the most of them,” Clark said. “She used her time in the RNOC and at GT to try new things and gain new skills that have clearly paid off.”

Since proving her technical acumen and graduating, she has traveled extensively to cultivate the inspiration that comes from beauty in nature. Deo recently hiked Peru’s Inca Trail to reach Macchu Picchu, and last winter she traveled to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. She also got her first “unforgettable” glimpse of bubbling lava while hiking an active Hawaiian volcano.

Deo is an avid blogger, about both her travels and her professional experiences. A heavily read post drew on Deo’s working experience and served as a helpful guide to selecting the right start-up for would-be entrepreneurs.

“Blogging is a great way to put forth your ideas and thoughts and connect with people on a different level,” she said. 

Ideas like the importance of creating accessible technology. Deo’s work on the app for the deaf and product accessibility efforts with LinkedIn demonstrate the enduring personal importance of the idea. And she’s nowhere near done creating solutions yet.

“I want to continue solving problems using technology,” Deo said. “And empower others to do the same.”