This is Yuchen Zhang.


Hi I am Yuchen Zhang, currently in my thesis year at Parson’s Design and Technology program. I came from a design background. I am very interested in applying my design thinking with current technology. In this way I hope to use technology that is beneficial to us and our environment.

During my time visiting China, I realized air pollution does not only cause health problems and restrict people’s daily activity, it also affects people’s mood. On a bad day all you can see in China is world of grey. Outside this visible grey range is still more grey. This really made me feel sadness, despair and depression. Last month New Yorkers had their own smog experience. The pollution of air is something that we all have to face eventually on this earth.

In this class I hope to create a device or mobile lab that  anyone can use to detect the level of particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 micrometres (PM 2.5) in their neighbourhood or city.  This project will also be open source where people can modify, change and expand upon the code and physical device. In some regions air pollution is not limited to particulate matter but also chemical contamination. I am interested in understanding and researching what chemical pollution is in the air and where these pollutants. Furthermore I hope to change people’s habits which produce air pollution and even help them find economic benefits in reducing air pollution.

These are two projects that I found impressive in how they solved problems which no one else thought were possible or doable.


The Ocean Clean Up” project is started by Boyan Slat, who started this project during secondary school. His project gathered people from all over the world to build a system that passively cleans the floating plastic bottles and pieces in the ocean. It utilizes the naturally occurring ocean waves to carry plastic pieces towards a wide barrier floating on the ocean. Then the plastics are carried up by a conveyor belt into storage, where later they are shipped to facilities to recycle.


The second project ,“The Silk Leaf,” was created by Julian Melchiorri who graduated from the Royal College of Art. This manmade leaf can perform photosynthesis like a real leaf without being planted in soil. This could not only help improve your personal airspace while traveling but also helpful for improving our air in office buildings and houses by incorporating this material in our ventilation systems.

Both of these projects gave me motivation and inspiration to create technology that turns something environmentally impossible to possible.