MIT alumnus excited to be back on campus in new role
By Sarah Foote
Antonio Hu, SB ’87, (Tony) has always enjoyed putting his teaching and product development skills to use creating new products and teaching others about engineering and product design. He recently began his new role as MITidm Academic Director after IDM Founding Director Matt Kressy approached him about taking the position. Hu was intrigued with the program as he liked the idea of putting his engineering, design, and business skillset to use while teaching.
Hu earned a master’s degree in product design from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT. He brings over 25 years of experience as head of product development at startups and large corporations to IDM. Hu has brought over 200 consumer products to market globally, including electronics, appliances, toys, and sporting goods. While a consultant, Hu helped both nascent and Fortune 500 companies with strategy, design, engineering, and sourcing. As an inventor, he’s licensed 22 products and has 17 patents. For 13 years, Hu has taught product design at both MIT and Stanford.
“This is a once-in-life-opportunity to get in on the formative stage of a program that’s so unique − to partner with a team and make a difference. I’ve always done some teaching and really enjoyed it. After learning more about the program and how unique it is, because IDM fully integrates three disciplines − business, design, and engineering into the program, I became really excited about the position,” Hu said.
At the heart of the two-year graduate program is the core curriculum known as ID Lab that meets two days per week. In this studio-based environment, students learn new concepts through lectures, seminars, and workshops, and then practice these concepts on their own projects. Each year students are required to design and engineer a product (this year a kitchen product) and then sell it at the semester ending Sales Gala.
“Tony has a background in engineering but practices design. The work he does starts from the inception of a concept, takes it to design, and then moves to manufacturing. He understands the entire practice,” Kressy said, adding, “He brings a valuable perspective to IDM and I believe our students will adopt his philosophy that design and business are critical components to being a good engineer. They’ll learn from his experience bringing products to market.”
Hu believes the hands-on experience will be eye-opening for IDMers − especially for those who don’t have a background in developing products. “Manufacturing is fun. Our students will realize the impact of the design they’re making. They’ll see how important it is that they work together as a group,” Hu said. “Seeing the ‘ah-ha’ moments is great. Students will learn the value of working with others to solve problems and quickly understand that it’s a more powerful way to work.”
IDM Faculty Co-director Steve Eppinger agrees, “Tony brings experience as an engineer, designer, entrepreneur, and educator to the IDM teaching team. He will become a trusted mentor to IDM students in the midst of career transitions.”
Hu met the new student cohort at Orientation this August. He joined the students on a two-day trip to hike and camping trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The students returned to campus for their first design task. Each student was asked to design and create a musical instrument. Then, they formed bands, performed music together, and busked on the streets of Cambridge to raise money for Innovators for Purpose.
“IDM students are such a high caliber group of people. They’re from very diverse work backgrounds and from all over the world. It is great to see them get to know each other and work together,” Hu said.
Hu believes the integrated approach taught in IDM will have a big impact on the students as future leaders. “Whatever companies they join will see that IDMers think differently about business − from the way they select their products, to how they can impact the bottom line. IDM [alums] will help minimize the risk and maximize the outcomes for their organizations,” Hu said.
IDM Faculty Co-director Warren Seering is also happy to have Hu onboard. “Tony is educated as both an engineer and a product designer. He has substantial professional experience in both areas as well. His teaching experience at MIT has shown him to be an outstanding instructor. He brings to IDM an ideal mix of backgrounds and interests and a commitment to teaching. We’re very pleased to have brought Tony onto the IDM team,” Seering said.
For more information about the MITidm program, or to apply, please visit: idm.mit.edu.