Sophia Brueckner, born in Detroit, MI, is an artist, designer, and engineer. Inseparable from computers since the age of two, she believes she is a cyborg. She received her Sc.B. in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from Brown University. As a software engineer at Google, she designed and implemented products used by tens of millions and later on experimental projects within Google Research.
Brueckner earned her MFA in Digital + Media at the Rhode Island School of Design where she explored the simultaneously empowering and controlling aspects of technology, particularly within user experience design and computer programming, through her artwork. At the MIT Media Lab, she combined the understanding that interfaces structure thought processes with ideas from cognitive behavioral therapy and embodied cognition to design and build haptic devices for mental health.
Brueckner feels an urgency to understand and raise awareness of technology's controlling effects, and to encourage the ethical and thoughtful design of new technologies. To do so, she teaches Sci-Fi Prototyping, a course combining science fiction, building functional prototypes, and the ethics of invention/design. Since 2011, she taught multiple versions of the class to students and researchers at MIT, Harvard, RISD, Brown, and the University of Michigan. Both the class itself as well as the students’ individual projects received international recognition and were featured by The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, Wired, NPR, Scientific American, Fast Company, and many others.
Brueckner’s work has been featured internationally including at SIGGRAPH, ISEA, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and the Leaders in Software and Art Conference in New York. She is especially interested in the application of embodied cognition to interaction design, wearable technology, digital fabrication, generative systems, sound, and, as a technology antidote, painting. She recently joined the University of Michigan's Stamps School of Art and Design as an assistant professor (with a courtesy appointment in the School of Information) where teaches sci-fi prototyping, digital fabrication, design, and creative programming. Her ongoing objective is to meaningfully combine her background in UX design and engineering with the perspective of an artist to create new technologies in the service of mental well-being.