How do you transform an instrument of war into a force for peace? Visiting lecturer and Parsons MFA Design and Technology alumnus Mehdi Salehi has dedicated his career to “bettering the relationship between humans and drones,” repurposing a device associated with terror to bring aid and hope to displaced people around the world.
As a child in Afghanistan, Salehi built his toys from scavenged materials. In 2001, his family fled the war-torn country and resettled in Greece, where Salehi developed a passion for “innovating and creating.” Every aspect of his work as a designer, he
says, has been influenced by his experience as a displaced person.
While living in Greece, Salehi attended the University of Thessaly, where he completed degrees in architecture and engineering. After years of working as an architect and UX and visual designer in Volos and Athens, he decided to move to the United States
to begin study at Parsons School of Design. Salehi completed his Master of Fine Arts in Design and Technology in 2014 and co-founded his engineering company, Good Drones, in the same year.
Today Salehi designs systems aimed at making a difference in people’s lives. “It is important to me to use a human-centered design approach,” he says. “I enjoy solving problems that are big and that involve designing for the masses.” Salehi’s primary
objective is to address the needs of the millions of people who cross borders every day in search of a better life — a circumstance he can relate to. Good Drones is designed to ensure safe passage for displaced people around the world. Salehi wants
to employ drones to “solve significant problems connected to humanitarian work, education, and environmental monitoring as well as disaster relief,” challenges that range from delivering first aid kits to immediately alerting rescue teams about capsized
Salehi is currently a visiting lecturer at Parsons and an entrepreneur and prototyper at Good Drones. In his spare time, Salehi researches humane applications of technology; his latest endeavor is an attempt to plant the first Afghan flag on Mount Everest
with the help of a “good” drone.