Collaborative Design Engineering Studio I (with SEAS)

The aim of the inaugural, two-semester Collaborative Design Engineering studio is to apply multi-disciplinary design thinking to a complex system that matters. Opaque, omnipresent, reflexive, essential and ever in flux, the food system shall be our focus. At the nexus of significant social, economic, health, cultural and planetary issues, the food system presents a variety of real-world problems for which the new discipline of design¬-engineering is especially well suited.

During the first semester, we will begin by analyzing various components that comprise the food system. Outside experts, both academics and practitioners, will speak to the class on a weekly basis, exposing the students to a broad range of processes and infrastructure involved in feeding both local and global populations: agriculture, aquaculture, livestock, etc., processing, packaging, transport, preparation, marketing, consumption, compost and disposal and all of the intermediates. In addition to planning and analytical tools, class topics include:

1. The Science of Food
2. The Harvard University Food System
3. Consumer Food Trends
4. Food Entrepreneurship & Conscious Capitalism
5. Beef: The Rotational Grazing of Cattle and/or Cultured Beef
6. Nutrition, Health, Food Justice and Society
7. Waste
8. Future Trends: Big data, robotics/sensors, bio-mimicry
9. Cultural and Historical Factors
10. Legal/Regulatory/Policy

These topics serve merely as a starting point – students will be encouraged to ‘connect the dots’ as they synthesize their own individual viewpoints. Following a series of exercises and thematic investigations, the class will identify problems of interest for their studio projects. Forming small teams, they will then begin to envision their design response to these challenges, and, through detailed proposals, translate that vision into coherent and viable plans.  Projects may take a range of forms, such as devices, processes, apps, analytic tools and writings.

During the second semester, teams will implement their proposals in concrete form, with an equal emphasis on creative innovation, technical sophistication, economic feasibility and social utility. Our goal is to create an open studio environment that fosters original and inventive thinking. We see enormous potential for students to develop deep expertise and to produce impactful projects.

Registration is strictly limited to students enrolled in the Masters of Design Engineering program.