Brian Shyu (MII-PS '14)-Integrated Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Brian Shyu (MII-PS '14)

Pivoting careers for the love of product design

"It’s an exciting time to be a designer in the UI/UX space," reflects alumnus Brian Shyu (MII-PS '14), team lead and product designer at Mine Safety Appliance (MSA) Safety. Interestingly, Shyu wasn't always a designer; in fact, he began his career at MSA as a mechanical engineer specialized in product development, "Moving from engineering to design seemed intimidating. How would I be able to convincingly transform myself as a designer?"

Shyu succeeded in transcending disciplines partly because of his experience in the Integrated Innovation Institute's Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services degree (then called a Master of Product Development). He attended the MII-PS program part-time while continuing his career at MSA.

Innovating the Design of Safety Products

At MSA, Shyu is using cutting-edge technologies to transform the design of safety products. MSA has a diversified portfolio of safety products serving many industries including fire service, gas detection, head/eye/hearing protection and fall protection. Currently, many of their products can only communicate an issue or problem to the professional wearing the device. By leveraging UI/UX design, Shyu is revolutionizing these products to improve accountability and keep workers safe. 

"Our team is using different wireless technologies to allow instrument data to be piped up to a cloud system in the future. This will help to remotely monitor the activities of different stakeholders like firefighters.” Shyu continues, “By creating these new experiences, UI/UX design is becoming a more critical element in the development process as we develop mobile and web interfaces."

Similar to his master's experience, Shyu works in a dynamic team at MSA comprised of industrial and UX designers, software developers and hardware engineers. With a 100-year history, MSA continues to innovate its approach to product development and has also been a corporate sponsor for the Institute's capstone projects, "It’s exciting to know that I am able to use some of the same tools and methodologies that I learned while studying [at] the Institute.”

Redesigning a Career

Shyu completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon in 2008. It was during his undergraduate experience that he discovered his passion for product development. In fact, as an undergrad he took the MII-PS program's Integrated Product Development (IPD) capstone, which inspired him to return to Carnegie Mellon in 2013 to earn his master's degree at the Integrated Innovation Institute.

Shyu's passion to become a designer grew as he progressed through the MII-PS program. The program's Career Planning course led by Professor Tom Kubilius supported him to pivot in his career, "One of the lessons that Professor Kubilius taught his students was about learning how to design our career and learning the importance of understanding and communicating our value as multi-disciplinary product designers." Shyu succeeded to transition from engineering to product design upon graduating from the master's program.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators

On a recent visit to campus, Shyu came to the Institute and presented to students in the same Career Planning course that had inspired him during his experience. He saw the same eagerness from students to understand and leverage their new cross-disciplinary skills to transform their own careers.

Shyu on recent visit back to the Institute

As an active alumni, Shyu looks to support these student innovators, volunteering to connect and share insights. During his recent visit, he expressed the importance of staying connected after graduation. "One of the most valuable things I during the program was how to network effectively." Shyu explains, "As a student, just thinking about approaching a stranger to inquire about career advice was a foreign concept. Gaining connections with other students, faculty and guest speakers, was invaluable." Shyu encourages his fellow alumni to stay involved with their alma mater and become mentors, to help the next generation of graduates to navigate their careers.

Brian ShyuAbout Shyu

Shyu was born and raised in the greater Washington, DC area. He came to Pittsburgh, PA to attend Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. He and his wife met in college, and they both decided to reside in Pittsburgh following graduation. In his free time, he enjoys playing instruments, home remodeling, recreational sports and freelance design work.

Check out Brian’s work and thoughts on creativity on his website,

By Chris Zeise