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DesignX comes to New York

Full house at breakfast event presenting MIT’s new accelerator for design innovation.

On September 13, 2017, the MIT Alumni Club of New York, MITArchA, the MIT Architecture Alumni Affinity Group, and the MIT Alumni Association, together with SA+P, hosted a breakfast to introduce alumni to DesignX–the venture accelerator for design innovation in the School of Architecture and Planning. The event was held at Gensler’s NY offices in Midtown Manhattan.

DesignX was created, in part, to bridge academia with practice, students with alumni. Indeed, most participants in the year-long accelerator program graduate and become alumni themselves half way through the year.  The accelerator provides mentorship, business and design curriculum, funding, connections to capital and opportunities for pilot projects.

Guests at this event were presented with the background and course of development of the program, and also with live demonstrations and presentations from five of the businesses created in the first DesignX cohort, including Learning Beautiful, Nesterly, Placeful, Hosta, and Bitsence.

SA+P Dean Hashim Sarkis spoke of the role that DesignX must play in preparing students for an evolving set of design professions.  Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning, Dennis Frenchman MCP ’76 made the case that schools cannot just let students and their ideas “fall off the edge of the table” upon graduation.  SA+P, through DesignX, will continue to support the entrepreneurs that graduate from the school.  Moreover, the bridge has two directions, the ingenuity, experience and resources of alumni must come back to the school. Alumni were invited to join DesignX as mentors and as champions of the program and the startup ventures that emerge from it.

Presenters included Kim Smith, MAS ’17; Daniel Fink, SMArchS ’17; Rachelle Villalon, PhD ’17; Noelle Marcus, MCP ’17; Rachel Goor, MCP ’17; Ariana Salazar, MCP ’16; and Nissia Sabri, SDM ’16.

Established within the School of Architecture and Planning last fall, DesignX has been working to unleash the capacity of students and recent graduates to create innovative solutions to pressing urban problems.

This was the first major alumni engagement for DesignX. Over 60 guests from industries ranging from architecture to finance, planning to chemistry joined leadership from SA+P and our hosts and sponsors at Gensler.

“DesignX provides an exciting new path for alumni to engage in design education and entrepreneurship at MIT. This event was a showcase for our program, but more importantly, it introduced a gateway for alumni to get involved at SA+P,”–DesignX executive director, Gilad Rosenzweig MCP ’13

Special thanks to Gensler and the MIT Class of 1960 for their support of MIT DesignX.