‘Tis the season for graduation. Hats will fly, tears will fall and oh, so many photos will be taken.
Even during a pandemic, more than 19,000 students are on track to graduate this year from Arizona State University alone. This includes both undergraduate and graduate students. ASU’s Spring 2021 graduation ceremonies were held Monday, May 3, both virtually and in person.
Two ASU students stand out from this group of ASU graduates for using technology to try to address problems in education. Barrett, The Honors College undergraduate student Michael Wang developed an online peer tutoring platform, while computer science student Dylan Lang developed communication technology for the deaf community in ASU classrooms.
Both students got their ideas from their own experiences, especially while navigating the education system.
While attending high school in Chandler, Wang became frustrated at the lack of resources to help him with his homework. Once he got to ASU, Wang got access to more support and resources, but he watched his teen brother struggle with many of the same problems. Like Wang, his brother stayed up late night after night trying to finish his AP Biology homework without any help. Wang saw this as unacceptable, so he leveraged ASU resources to find a solution. From there, he created PeerSquared in 2018.
PeerSquared is an online tutoring platform that connects students to tutors, based on their own individual needs. This also provides student tutors with volunteer opportunities.
Wang earned more than $10,000 through the Venture Devils program run by ASU’s J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute. He’s also earned scholarships and awards, like the New American University President’s Award.
Dylan Lang has also won several awards through the Venture Devils program for his startup EqualComm, an app designed to improve communication and bridge gaps between the hearing and deaf communities. Lang received $25,000 through the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative and $10,000 through the Amazon Alexa Venture Challenge. In 2021, he was a semifinalist for the ASU Innovation Open.
Lang says that EqualComm is meant to entirely revolutionize communication technology for the deaf, which can potentially get more deaf individuals into the workforce. He says that while 12% of Americans are deaf, only 47% of the deaf population is in the workforce.
Lang is mostly deaf himself after losing 90% of his hearing due to a condition called profound bilateral hearing loss. As a result, he also struggled in high school. Like Wang, Lang didn’t receive much support until college.
Lang also started the Deaf Devils club at ASU, which helps engage the deaf community at ASU and promotes deaf culture and awareness.
Wang graduates this week with a bachelor of science in finance and computer information systems through the W.P. Carey School of Business. Lang graduates with a bachelor of science in computer science through the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and a certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation. Both graduates plan to continue working on their startups after graduation. And they each have ambitious goals.
“My goal is to be in every Arizona public school district with a high school within five years,” Wang told ASU.
This summer I will be working with retailers to get my products into thousands of retail stores across the United States,” said Lang. “The goal is to continue to build revolutionary businesses that help create value for everyone and ultimately make this world a better place.”