My first love is K-12 education, primarily curriculum improvement. I am on a journey to figure out how to make it better around the world. I sometimes use technology to make this happen.

Work Experience

May 2019 -
  • Transitioned the organization from a pure product company to an R&D unit focused on curricular design and instructional strategy interventions using AI.
  • Achieved product-market-fit and developed the strategy for a curricular instruction product for the K-12 professional development market.
Baidu Silicon Valley AI Lab
Senior AI Product Engineer / Manager
April 2017 - May 2019
  • Led and architected productization of automated speech recognition, text-to-speech, and neural machine translation API services for Chinese market, working closely with research scientists and engineers.
  • Guided success and adoption of Baidu’s deep learning platform (competitor to TensorFlow) and strategy around communication and deployment onto private distributed clouds.
Accelerated Studio
Production Partner
January 2017 - March 2017
  • Launched a storytelling studio for founders of social good companies and worked on 6 creative projects. Exited to a team of HBO and Nat Geo filmmakers to return to tech.
Founder / CTO
January 2012 - March 2017
  • Led product front-end engineering and interaction design, using modern web technologies like HTML5, ES6, SASS / CSS3, React, SVG, JSX, Webpack, Flux, GraphQL, Python, Django, and Node.js.
  • Raised investments from Y Combinator, Points of Light, and the International Telecommunication Union.
Theuerkauf Elementary School
Science experimentation teacher (volunteer)
2016 - 2017
  • Taught elementary school students the magic of experimentation through a program called "Science is Elementary" on certain days.
Founder / Front-end and textbook engineering intern
May 2012 - August 2012
  • Worked with modern web technologies to build a HTML5 publishing environment for higher ed textbooks, sales teams, and publications.
  • Built a patented Java-based service to work with InDesign Markup Language (IDML), saving the company millions.
Carnegie Mellon University
Lecturer / Teaching Assistant
2010 - 2012
  • Taught semester-long course on building web applications using modern programming languages and design tools.
  • Assisted professors on the courses: “Role of Technology in Learning in the 21st Century”, “Usable Web Design”, and “Communication Design”.
UN Development Programme
Web Developer / Architect intern
June 2012 - August 2012
  • Worked with DotNetNuke, modern web technologies, and legacy codebases to redesign the UN’s leading ICT4D advocacy body’s (UN GAID) public website after intensive wireframing and feedback process.
Technology Consulting in the Global Community
Educational Technology Consultant
May 2009 - January 2010
  • Evaluated and advised a Ministry of Education’s administration on revival of a failing yet critical country-wide deployment in Polynesia.
  • Conducted needs assessments in elementary, middle, and high schools, and ran teacher training workshops on effective strategies and policies.
Business Intelligence Consultant
2009 - 2010
  • Build a new system based on MediaWiki for business intelligence for one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.

Fellowships and Awards

Anne Lewis Fellow
Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University
International Telecommunication Union Young Innovator Award
United Nations
David Lingren Fellow
Carnegie Mellon University
Google Zeitgeist Young Mind

Formal Education

Misc. education coursework
Commonwealth Education Trust / Coursera / Foundation of Teaching & Learning, Psychology, First Year Teaching: Secondary Grades
Stanford University / Online course on American Poverty
Y Combinator, Points of Light / Acumen Civic Accelerator, Thrill Mill
Masters in Information Systems Management
Heinz College of Information Systems & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Bachelors of Science in Information Systems
Dietrich School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
Partially completed in Education City in Doha, Qatar, and partially in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US


English, Hindi, Elementary Mandarin, Elementary Arabic

Summary / blurb for intros and speaker pages

Varun Arora is the CEO of the education technology company OpenCurriculum, which uses expert systems and NLP technologies to help K-12 teachers design pedagogically effective curriculum and instruction, using research and evidence from classrooms around the world. Previously, Arora was a Senior AI Product Leader at one of the largest search engine companies, where he worked on AI research productization of speech and NLP technologies.

He has served as a Partner at Accelerated Studio, and worked in several edTech product, engineering, and business intelligence roles at Inkling, the United Nations, and on a One Laptop Per Child deployment in Polynesia, apart from brief teaching stints in an elementary school and a university. He advises various education technology startups. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University.

Fun tidbit

I have an unintentional history of identifying and designing prototypes of technologies around information and social media many years before successful versions of them become commonplace and popular. See: