Meet Sorren Jao, 2023 Lighthouse Lab Prize Recipient

March 06, 2024

As the 2023 recipient of the Lighthouse Lab prize, School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) student Sorren Jao completed a Web Development Bootcamp in December 2023. When Sorren applied for the Lighthouse Labs Prize, which offers a free spot to Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology students in Lighthouse Labs’ intensive Web Development Bootcamp, his goal was to use the opportunity to complete his full-stack development roadmap. 

Sorren graduates from SFU this fall and, coupled with the skills and knowledge gained from the Lighthouse Labs Bootcamp, feels much more confident and prepared for a future career in web development.

Read about Sorren’s experience below, then check out his portfolio and connect on Linkedin.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your studies at SFU?

I’m a student at the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University, where I study user experience design and Human-Computer Interaction. In my free time, I enjoy watching the playthroughs of old video games and am fascinated by how game design and user experiences have evolved over time. I am passionate about coding and designing UI elements for digital interfaces to better improve the overall user experience. What intrigues me the most are the collective interactions and behaviours of users, alongside the thought processes of designers. 

What were your goals going into the Lighthouse Labs program?

After winning this prize, I felt a rush of hope, realizing that my dream of learning and working in full-stack development was closer than it initially seemed. I was excited to learn about the job networks and employment opportunities the program offered, and hoped that the program would not only enhance my web development skills but also broaden my job prospects.

Why did you choose to study at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology?

That's a question my peers often ask me, along with "What is the School of Interactive Arts and Technology?" When I made the decision to join SIAT, I had some experience in Flash animation and Photoshop but I wasn't entirely sure what career path I wanted to pursue.  I knew that SIAT was known for its multimedia program, which offered a diversity of digital-based projects. This stood out to me because, at the time, there weren't many programs focusing on multimedia. It seemed like the perfect place to explore different fields and find my niche. Now, looking back, my time at SIAT and my experiences in co-op programs have sparked an interest in web development.

What is the most surprising thing you have learned about Human-Computer Interaction?

There is a comparison in Human-computer interaction (HCI), which comes from comes from Herbert Simon’s ant concept, that likens users to ants. This comparison might sound a bit odd but is actually quite insightful. Picture an ant on a beach trying to get back to its nest - it doesn’t just walk in a straight line; it has to zigzag and take detours to avoid obstacles. The ant doesn't plan its path; it simply adapts to the environment as it goes. This is similar to how we often use new apps. We don't always have a clear route in mind. Instead, we navigate based on what the app's interface shows us and our own instincts. Simon's analogy is quite clever. It makes me think of those times when I'm trying to figure out something like cancelling a subscription on an app – it can feel like navigating through a labyrinth, much like the ant making its way across the beach.

Is there a project that you worked on during your time at SIAT that you are most proud of?

During my time in SIAT I had worked on many projects from apps, websites, games, and even board games. One notable project came during my co-op term with SFU Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS), where my role was to create student profiles. 

The process of creating student profiles was repetitive and time-consuming to our overall workflow.  To solve this, I developed the Profile Helper to speed up the process of creating student profiles by generating student content, allowing the staff to copy content to the student profile page, and making space for revisions or changes from the student. The GPS communication department was most thankful for my innovation. 

For more information on my involvement:



Established in 2014 with a generous gift from Lighthouse Labs, this annual prize provides a space for one FCAT student each year in their specialized Web Development Bootcamp. Valued at $14,000, the prize recognizes promising, creative students from any area of FCAT who have a demonstrated interest in web development.


Lighthouse Labs is a leading tech education company that empowers individuals to transform their lives through hard work and dedication. With a supportive and collaborative environment, Lighthouse Labs addresses the digital skills gap and ensures that technological change is an opportunity for all. To date, it has equipped over 40,000 students with the competencies needed to drive innovation in cyber security, data science, data analytics, web development, and more. Through a purpose-driven approach to learning and a team of passionate instructors and mentors, Lighthouse Labs nurtures each student’s potential to help launch their bright futures.