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IDM Sales Gala 2016

By Andy MacInnis

Ready, set, go… Design, make, sell!

Each fall, first-year IDM students try their hands at developing, producing and selling 50 copies of a product in a seven-week exercise called the Sales Gala. Evaluating choices, designing, engineering, sourcing materials, marketing, packaging, point-of-sales displays, shipping, and online presence were all part of the project, as was the biggie—manufacturing!

Any successful product must have a combination of desirability, feasibility and viability (DFV). A great product will be easy to make, sell out quickly and make money. Each of our teams learned how a product is affected by process repeatability, supply chain issues and late design changes. Mockups and prototypes tested with potential users proved or disproved desirability in early-stage concepts. Winning concepts were developed over multiple iterations into final feasible products, sometimes changing even after production had started. At the end of the seven weeks, the Sales Gala would provide the final piece of information: which products were most viable in the marketplace.

This year’s Sales Gala category was kitchenware. Teams produced a set of four coasters with a map of the Charles River flowing through them; an indoor growing station; a set of magnetic spice tins; a functional table centerpiece in the shape of a reindeer; a decorative bottle opener; and a serving bowl that gives out a tone.

Laser cutters, CNC milling machines and CNC routers were all put to work as large amounts of plywood, magnets, concrete, exotic wood veneers and bags of fasteners began to arrive. Even at this late stage, products were being pared down to their essence to allow success in our limited time frame. Decisions of finish, colors, and packaging were made between all-day machine runs and trips to the lumber yards. The IDM studio was getting cramped with stacks of work In progress, and students scoured the MIT campus for any open laser-cutter bandwidth.

One of the first things students learned was that keeping their product simple would drastically reduce their manufacturing workload. Elaborate ideas were quickly simplified or scrapped for simpler ones. Lofty goals of using only sustainable materials were tempered when availability or quality proved troublesome. Theoretical lessons became reality, as one or two extra parts for a product become 50 or 100 extra parts on the workbench. Learning to save a few minutes per part on an operation paid off in saving hours of work.

Some very clever solutions evolved as time evaporated and options narrowed. As an example, what was conceived as a bell to promote mindful eating became a beautiful, colorful concrete bowl as the bell proved troublesome to produce. Even transporting inventory across campus at the last minute taught a lesson about package sizes and the weight of concrete bowls in quantities of 50.

The project also brought a close group even closer. In the last few hours before the Gala, our cohort of 21 students showed their camaraderie by helping out other teams when they had time, ensuring that what’s learned by one team is shared with all. A group that started strong is now even stronger and more connected as a result of their shared efforts and successes.

Each team’s product took a different path to completion and had its own challenges.

Muddy Charles: An idea for a set of four coasters with a map of the Charles River flowing through them resulted in multilayered, multicolored wooden objets d’art that were laser-cut and hand-assembled. Gluing the layers was not as straightforward as expected, and students tried several methods before finding one that worked within the timeframe and available equipment. This project went through several iterations of material, number of layers, coloring agents, adhesives, and methods of cutting and assembly before arriving (at nearly the last minute) on the best way forward. The market for this item proved strong, with opportunities to continue production beyond the class project.

Muddy Charles

Muddy Charles

GRO: Addressing the problem of a limited gardening season for many of us, GRO designed a small, well-made growing station for indoor, year-round use. LED strips supply light to three small pots of herb seedlings. A CNC router cut the plywood frames that were assembled with hand-made wiring harnesses. Students considered dipping and spraying the frames but chose were considered, and simply brushing was selected. The wiring harness proved challenging to hide in an open wooden frame, so simply leaving it exposed (and safe for the user) won out.



Spice Palette: How many hidden magnets do you need to hold a dozen spice jars to a vertical board? How do you machine dozens of holes almost all the way through a beautiful and costly piece of mahogany without going through to the visible side? These challenges were met and conquered with a variety of CNC and manual woodworking machinery. A light coat of oil produced an attractive contrasting surface for the satin-finish spice tins. Now, how do we attach that to a wall? A variety of hooks, tapes, and fasteners were tried, and an adhesive/Velcro solution was chosen by the team to hang these useful spice racks.

Spice Palette

Spice Palette

Dear Deer: What started as a search for a solution to a crowded table top became a timely, seasonal centerpiece. Two options of laser-cut plywood reindeer, finished in two shades of tan and easily assembled by the customer, are there to greet your guests at the table, and to hold up a plate of cookies. Multiple possible methods of assembling these wooden pieces required lots iterations of slot sizes and several plywood types before the team found the best combination. There had to be load testing to make sure those cookies didn’t hit the floor, and only one material proved strong enough. The laser-burned edges in some areas were treated to a gold-like finish. Buyers got small jute drawstring bags to carry each unassembled reindeer to its new home.

Dear Deer

Dear Deer

Pivot: A bottle opener can be such an ordinary thing—useful but not terribly aesthetic. Team Pivot (named after the mechanics of removing a bottle cap) chose to create a memorable kitchen tool. The timeline suggested that the team not redesign the whole concept, but rather enhance what is available. Sourcing a flat, stainless opener allowed them to experiment with exotic wood overlays, such as purple heart, in multiple patterns. When faced with choosing just one pattern from a handful of really good ones, the team chose instead to produce three—one by each team member. Each design combines several colorful wood patterns that were laser cut to precisely fit, and bonded to the stainless opener. In addition to being beautiful, the wood enhances the comfort and usability of the base tool. Of the designs offered at the show, the one showing the planets sold out instantly, with the others close behind. Many customers purchased multiple pieces.



OKI: With the goal of a more mindful and enjoyable eating experience, the team conceived a pleasant-sounding bell mounted in a concrete bowl that would ring every time the user took a bite. While this worked in the prototype stages, it sadly proved unbuildable within the time constraints. The team had a great start on the bowl, and with that the focus of the project changed. There were challenges as plastic molds failed, and the team turned to steel bowls as the solution. The concrete recipe (mastered early on) and the new molds produced beautiful, smooth, two-toned serving bowls.



Pinch: Serious chefs require a serious pepper mill—So how about one that has some soul? First, source the best mill mechanism you can find in the right quantities. Then, acquire a few old mill building beams and cut them to size. Take a minute to admire the color and aroma of the longleaf pine that emerges out of the blackened, aged lumber. Wood is not known for it’s micro-precision, but this product has the advantage of CNC milling machine accuracy, keeping the metal parts aligned and happy. A borrowed router table completes the rounded corners of the blocks and makes them pleasant to handle. A touch of sanding and a splash of color bring out the reclaimed wood’s ancient beauty – and each piece enjoyed its own unique grain pattern. Add your favorite peppercorns and cooking each meal will be that much more rewarding.



Our students managed to sell all 50 items, and a few teams sold even more. The total sales reached $19,506 with a total gross margin of 47%. The Sales Gala event was a fun, creative and educational experience that helped students learn what sells, as well as how to design and manufacture products efficiently.

Maya Olsha Named IDM Director of Business Partnerships

By Alice Waugh
March 8, 2017

Maya Olsha, has been named Director of Business Partnerships for MIT’s Integrated Design & Management (IDM) program. Olsha, a 2008 alumna of IDM’s sister track, the System Design and Management (SDM) program, brings over a decade of experience and a breadth of accomplishments. 

As primary liaison to IDM’s partners (mostly companies, but also nonprofits and other agencies), Olsha will identify and nurture current and future relationships between IDM and those partners. Her goal is to increase awareness of the program and collaboration opportunities including class and thesis projects, student careers, joint research, gifts and social initiative projects.

Olsha is well acquainted with IDM Director Matt Kressy, since she took his Product Design and Development class as an SDM student. After doing her thesis project on procurement risk management at Accenture, she worked full-time in product management and was a vice president for customer success at a startup.

“I’ve always loved interaction with the customers, listening to their problems and trying to solve them creatively,” she says. “Now I can help promote the IDM vision by working with students and companies to the bring design integration to corporate culture and processes.”

Olsha looks forward to promoting many types of collaboration between IDM and its partners, including facilitating internships and post-graduation job opportunities for students, as well as helping guide IDM’s Spring Project Market Opportunity Pitch event. In that exercise, several companies, along with all of the students, pitch real-world problems. Students choose one of the problems and work on solutions by conducting interviews, doing market research and creating prototypes. The solutions might be a product or service, such as inventing a means of alerting deaf cruise ship passengers about emergencies, or it might be a social challenge such as sparking children’s interest in nature.

“Maya has been working with the IDM leadership team for the past year and has become integral to the mission of the program,” Matt Kressy says. “Her wonderful energy has created meaningful relationships with partners that inspire the students and also result in terrific outcomes for the companies.”

Olsha started college in her native Israel and got her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in computer science. She worked as a software engineer for the Partners Healthcare System before enrolling at MIT.

24 Hours of Design: Integrated Design Innovation Consortium

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The Integrated Design Innovation Consortium Tackles Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction


By Melissa Parrillo, MITidm Program Administrator


The surgery was successful, according to the doctor. I thought: The cancer is gone and Mom is finally safe.

But a few hours later, Mom asked, “Is this one of the new chemo rooms?” And she wasn’t in a chemo room. She had undergone surgery to remove her lung. We started to worry: What if she is having a stroke? What if there is some kind of brain damage? What if she isn’t safe?

Ultimately, my mother doesn’t remember much of her six-day stay at the hospital. She suffered from a condition known as Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction (POCD), a disorder that occurs in up to 10% of elderly surgery (and anesthesia) patients. I didn’t learn about it at the hospital though. The nurses and doctors never mentioned it to my family. Yet, the issue is growing in importance in the medical community.

In fact, POCD was addressed at the recent Brain Health Summit in Washington, D.C. Additionally, the American Society of Anesthesiologists is leading the charge to increase awareness of the risks of surgery and anesthesia on postoperative cognition in the vulnerable brain and to implement strategies to reduce postoperative delirium and cognitive dysfunction. But, I learned about these conditions one year later at the Integrated Design Innovation Consortium (IDI) 24 Hour Design Challenge, on October 28, 2016.

IMG_4752The IDI 24hr Design Challenge, the fourth led by Penn’s Sarah Rottenberg and Northwestern’s Amy O’Keefe, brought together partners from Penn Medicine, along with students from University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design (IPD), Northwestern’s Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program, Carnegie Mellon’s Integrated Innovation Institute (MII-PS), and MIT’s Integrated Design & Management (IDM) program in Philadelphia. The goal was to solve three complex problems associated with POCD and postoperative delirium:

  • How can we preoperatively screen for behaviors and risk factors associated with onset of Postoperative Cognitive Decline (POCD) or Delirium post surgery?
  • How can we enlist caregivers to mitigate delirium/POCD or expedite recovery when the patient demonstrates symptoms of Delirium/POCD post surgery while they are still in the hospital?
  • How can we improve life and prevent death at home after surgery for patients who show symptoms of POCD?

At 5pm, on Friday, 10/28, 76 students gathered in Penn’s Towne Building to learn about the challenge, break into teams, hear an introduction from Shushila Murthy, and begin secondary research. By 9pm, the 15 teams were able to state research questions and initial hypotheses.

On Saturday morning, the students reunited in their inter-school, cross-disciplinary teams to continue to apply the human-centered design process to the problems of post-surgical delirium and POCD. They started by exploring the problem firsthand, by interviewing caregivers, design researchers, medical researchers, physicians, professors, surgeons, an anthropologist, and an anesthesiologist to understand the stakeholders’ perspectives. They also visited an intensive care unit to get a sense of the surgical environment. In this manner, the challenge participants were able to develop empathy, user journeys, and stakeholder needs.

Full of understanding, they got to work on concept generation. The white boards were covered in marker and sticky notes. Words like “solutions,” “nurse action lists,” “data analytics,” “screening,” “games,” and “virtual reality,” appeared from wall to wall and the volume in the room went from a low hum to a noisy buzz. Teams generated multiple ideas and talked about the pros and cons of each. Then, they broke down the ideas and built them back up again hypothetically until they were confident in their direction.IMG_4777

Then, students built actual prototypes—early representations of their concepts. Groups constructed a sleeve for wireless bio-monitoring, a photo booth, and an app for assessment and anxiety reduction. While working on their ideas and prototypes, the IDI students received feedback from physicians and design researchers from Penn Medicine. The practitioners provided input that allowed the students to make meaningful changes to their concepts.

After 24 hours, the students were ready to reveal their ideas. Each team had 3 minutes and a 2-slide maximum to present. There were options that addressed all three periods from the challenge—before surgery, during the hospital stay, and following discharge. There were also innovations designed to aid the various stakeholders, including: patients, caregivers/family, doctors/nurses, and the funders (insurance/Medicare/Medicaid).

Teams invented products that were at the leading edge of technology and that were low tech and accessible for all audiences. In fact, one team created a virtual reality solution to simulate the sundown effect and the difficulty focusing attention that are often experienced as patients emerge from anesthesia; while another group created a 12 inch cubic block of games that resembled a popular toddler toy. There were apps, a chatbot, a digital-to-physical calendar, physical and interactive care kits, an interactive storytelling platform, flash cards, physical space designs, and games. Mark Neuman commented on the nature of the IDI students’ ideas, “Many things in medicine just aren’t designed. Bringing in the design context adds a lot!”

Even the “clients” from Penn Medicine appreciated the way that teams capitalized on their human focused insights. For example, the Lee Fleisher remarked upon groups’ utilization of family members’ time in the waiting room, calling it an “intervenable moment that we should be using.” He also showed interest in a tool that collects data from patients and provides a feedback loop for medical personnel to learn about which of their own practices are most successful. Overall, Fleisher was impressed by the manner in which the students attacked a “20-year-old problem in 24 hours” producing a diversity of thought, which he attributed to the diversity in the room.

The Integrated Design Innovation Consortium
The Integrated Design Innovation Consortium is a collaboration of graduate programs (Carnegie Mellon’s Integrated Innovation Institute (MII-PS), MIT’s Integrated Design & Management (IDM), Northwestern’s Engineering Design Innovation (EDI), and University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design (IPD) programs) that bring together design, engineering, and business. The programs provide students with the tools to make the world a better place and graduates understand their responsibility to approach complex problems with empathy, integrity, and optimism.

Final Presentations Spring 2016

In case you missed our phenomenal final presentation…

By Maya Yehiav, Partner Liaison, MIT-IDM

In case you missed our final presentation on Wednesday, May 11, I am happy to share an overview of the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) core class final presentations. In this unique class, called Integrated Design Lab II (IDL II), IDM students learn about the process of integrated design for the development of products, services, and businesses.

Starting with an opportunity statement regarding a problem or a challenge that needs to be addressed, the students proceed through each stage of the product development process, while integrating design, business, and engineering.

The team selection process

At the beginning of the spring semester, each student and sponsor company present select opportunities. Each project proposal must pass the “DFV” test for desirability, feasibility, and viability. The students then vote on the challenge they most want to work on. Based on the results, teams are formed with an equal balance of engineers, designers, and business students.

This year’s team selection process resulted in five different projects, three of which were sponsored by Camper Shoes, Sonos, and a “big entertainment company!”

The five teams of IDL II 2016:

Swift Travel:

The Swift Travel team redefined the carry-on luggage experience.

The challenge/opportunity: Improve the experience of traveling with a carry-on and devise a storage solution when it’s not in use.

The solution: After going through the process of market analysis, interviews, observational research, personas, and competition, the Swift Travel team came up with the brilliant solution of a modular carry-on. Not only is it extremely easy to carry through security, but travelers also can fold it flat and save dramatically on storage space!


Talha and Anuj impressing professor Maria Yang!


The DoM team created a product that enriches the emotional experience of controlling media at home.

The challenge/opportunity: Connect smart home devices on an emotional level.

The solution: The DoM team came up with a smart and good-looking device that is fed data from smart wearable devices (Fitbit, iWatch, etc.). It analyzes the user’s current mood and feeds back data to a smart home device (e.g., Sonos speakers), enabling users to listen to the music that matches their emotional state. The DoM not only is soothing with its beautiful design and appropriate mood music, but also has lighting features to match the full emotional analysis and improve the user’s overall lifestyle.


DoM, Connect smart home devices on an emotional level.

Camper Earth:

The Camper Earth team created a design-driven material innovation to produce a zero-waste system for handmade, sustainable leather shoes.

The challenge/opportunity: Develop a creative/unexpected new business process that is consistent with the brand, doesn’t change the shoes themselves, is implementable in the short term, leads to new sales, and reduces Camper Shoes’ carbon footprint and costs.

The solution: The Camper Earth team has found an incredible solution for improving the production process by reusing and upscaling the production waste! They not only reduced the CO2 emission and energy consumption, but also created the most beautiful surface out of it!


Reduced CO2 emission and energy consumption


The DRIFT team created an application that processes internet media consumption in order to allow for a healthier browsing experience.

The challenge/opportunity: Improve user focus and productivity while surfing the web.

The solution: The DRIFT team came up with a revolutionary idea, in which a web-based application can monitor web-surfing behavior and provide a smart guideline to help users stay in focus and increase their productivity.


Ish demonstrated Drift.


The Alexandria team developed an emergency information/alert system for hard-of-hearing and deaf vacationers.

The challenge/opportunity: Improve the safety of deaf vacationers on a cruise line, while preserving the fun, stress-free vacation atmosphere.

The solution: The Alexandria team developed an emergency cross-platform broadcast system that communicates rich information with in-room devices. The system can immediately improve the safety of hard-of-hearing and deaf vacationers by communicating and alerting the cruise ships with text and graphics.


Honey and Tammy presenting Alexandia

Each team not only came up with a state-of-the-art product or solution, but also revealed the process itself during the presentation, which was even more impressive! They went through the development process from start to finish, while integrating the design aspect at each step along the way.

We would like to thank everyone who joined us in the final presentation event—the judges, mentors, sponsors, faculty, and, most important, the amazing group of students in the IDM program. We hope you enjoyed the challenge!

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Inside the Integrated Design Lab: Teams beat sales targets


Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of three news features that invite the reader inside IDM’s core class—the Integrated Design Lab. In this series, contributor Melissa Ackermann details the students’ second project from start to finish.

After many sleepless nights filled with coffee as well as music and movies to aid in keeping the students alert, the moment of truth arrived—the December 10th sales gala. Without a doubt, this day came at lightning speed and brought bittersweet emotions. Although students were dismayed as they reached the deadline, they also were relieved that the end was in sight. All products were completed to the best of their ability given the various constraints each team faced. Now it was simply a matter of powering through the final stage of the project. Students would finally be able to reap the fruits of their labor, pushing through any sleep deprivation as they functioned purely off the surge of adrenaline that rushed through their veins.


Chacha Durazo goes for the soft sell with Warren Seering, IDM engineering faculty co-director.

As the students filed into MIT Sloan School of Management to begin setting up for the event, they had extra pep in their step along with a contagious amount of excitement. Pride in their craftsmanship was evident through the care and attention to detail they put into their product booth displays. With hardly any time to spare, food and libations started flowing—and so did prospective customers. IDM Director Matt Kressy grinned from ear to ear, in awe of both the impressive work the students accomplished and the sizeable crowd they pulled in. “It is so incredibly rewarding for this day to have arrived and to not only experience seeing the students engaging with customers about their innovative products, but also selling out of them at quite decent profit margins!” Kressy commented.

While the students buzzed around catering to prospective buyers, the customers chattered among themselves, elated with the unique creativity of their new purchases. As the students engaged with their newly found supporters, they shared their stories (depicted below) of how their ideas came to fruition and the grueling obstacles they had to navigate around. Steve Eppinger, faculty co-director of IDM, visited each of the teams, listening intently to their stories and proudly acknowledging their performance. When the gala eventually wound down, students sighed a breath of relief to have successfully pulled off their projects and realized a return on their investment! While some were ready to celebrate their achievement with their classmates, others passed out from pure exhaustion. At the end of the day, it was a grand finale for all!


Team 1: Root 16IMG_0758

Needs that drove “D”esirability

  • Lack of counter space as well as 
unused angular areas and wall surfaces
  • Aesthetics
  • Modularity and flexibility
  • Visibility and segregation

Greatest “F”easibility challenges faced and lessons learned

  • Scrapping the original product late in the process and pivoting on opportunity
  • Finding a good balance between functionality and design
  • Forecasting adequate time management throughout the process

Project finale determining “V”iability

  • # of units made – 50
  • # of units sold – 34
  • # of units to break-even – 30


Team 2: MUGger Life mugger.crop

Needs driving “D”esirability

  • Form
  • Ergonomics
  • Vessel function
  • Heat function

Greatest “F”easibility challenges faced and lessons learned

  • Thinking they had a firm grasp of the ceramic manufacturing process
  • Locating adequate space to facilitate production
  • Attempting numerous times to create a durable form due to continuous breakage

Project finale determining “V”iability

  • # of units made – 52
  • # of units sold – 48
  • # of units to break-even – 16


Team 3: Perch perch2

Needs driving “D”esirability

  • Ability to use a phone more easily while working in the kitchen
  • Freeing up of counter space
  • Easily moveable to different areas

Greatest “F”easibility challenges faced and lessons learned

  • Shipping issues with getting parts on time
  • Logistic problems slowed down the manufacturing process
  • Inability to incorporate more features due to the compressed project timeframe

Project finale determining “V”iability

  • # of units made – 80
  • # of units sold – 80
  • # of units to break-even – 27


Team 4: brielliant SIDE_VIEW

Needs driving “D”esirability

  • High aesthetic appeal
  • Source of pride for the user
  • Ability to separate hard from soft cheeses
  • Placement for cheese knives

Greatest “F”easibility challenges faced and lessons learned

  • Identifying the best wood to use
  • Anticipating product viability, running out of stock, and placing backorders

Project finale determining “V”iability

  • # of units made – 56
  • # of units sold – 56
  • #of units to break-even – 25


Team 5: Living Flavors Photo_Dec_02__6_08_26_PM

Needs driving “D”esirability

  • Garnish dining experiences with fresh herbs
  • Maintain plants with limited skill and effort
  • Curate dining table centerpieces that look modern and fashionable

Greatest “F”easibility challenges faced and lessons learned

  • Understanding how plants grow to choose the best ones for utilizing the product
  • Having to wait two weeks for the plants to grow
  • Shutting down of the laser cutter impeded the manufacturing process

Project finale determining “V”iability

  • # of units made – 75
  • # of units sold – 75
  • # of units to break-even – 35


Team 6: SUSHIGAMI sushigami

Needs driving “D”esirability

  • Produce fully enclosed sushi
  • Details proper amount of rice and ingredients
  • Ability to center the ingredients between rice

Greatest “F”easibility challenges faced and lessons learned

  • Underestimating the time needed for small parts of the project such as lamination
  • Sourcing an FDA-approved food-safe paint
  • Experiencing long lead time with the delivery of parts

Project finale determining “V”iability

  • # of units made – 52
  • # of units sold – 52
  • # of units to break-even – 16

Thanks for joining us for the fall series of Inside the Integrated Design Lab. Please be sure to check back in soon to explore the latest developments in the students’ spring semester coursework.

Inside the Integrated Design Lab: Prototyping and Manufacturing

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of three news features that invite the reader inside IDM’s core class—the Integrated Design Lab. In this series, contributor Melissa Ackermann details the students’ second project from start to finish.

perchsketchAs the clock began its countdown to the December 10th IDM Sales Gala, the students still faced an abundance of opportunities for creating innovative kitchen utensil solutions. They quickly dwindled down their list to six: a modular fruit and vegetable storage system, an unconventional mug design crafted from the finest porcelain at MIT, an innovative mobile phone stand for viewing recipes, a uniquely detailed and customized cheese board, a table-top herb-growing station, and a decorative sushi-rolling mat.

Six design teams were formed around these opportunities using two sets of selection criteria: choosing one student from each discipline—design, engineering, and business, and matching up each student with one of their three top-ranked opportunities.

As Director Matt Kressy set the students on their way to begin their projects, he offered up some words of wisdom, “Through this design process, you’ll be challenged with many new decisions you didn’t have to face in your previous project. You will find that your design decisions are different when they are connected to making 50 units. It’s not so straightforward and obvious. Keep in mind that the ‘devil is in the detail’!”

The students quickly set out to begin their research and develop their prototypes. Although they had originally derived their ideas from conducting user needs analysis, they had to revisit this phase in their newly formed teams in order to determine the root16 manuvarious prototype possibilities they could test and build.

Over the course of many late nights, each team worked rigorously on extensive concept generation and feedback acquisition, identifying what seemed to be working and what could be done better. Through this process, students were able to formulate their strategy by identifying potential risks and uncertainties. They intended to reduce and eliminate as much risk as possible by getting answers in the fastest and cheapest ways possible.

Students found themselves getting an intimate understanding of what Kressy meant about “the devil being in the detail” as they worked relentlessly to mitigate the various design factors—customer needs, quality, safety and performance, as well as profit and cost—all within the looming time constraint.

After much frustration with their concept, one of the teams even made an incredibly tough decision to completely pivot on their product midstream and start from scratch. “We were originally exploring egg making, but learned that the food-safe materials were difficult to work with and expensive, and required a great deal of testing. We went down that road for a while, but there wasn’t going to be enough time. SMugger manuo we changed course and started over with concept generation.” The team ultimately ended up designing a modular fruit and vegetable storage system.

In the end, the universal challenge that all the teams share is how to maintain the desired look and feel for their products while scaling up for manufacturing. There’s no doubt that the evolution of their initial product design—or in Team 1’s case the entire product—has been forced to undergo changes, some embraced wholeheartedly and some accepted reluctantly.

As it currently stands, students are working diligently to resolve their real-time challenges as they embark on the homestretch to complete their kitchen utensil project—a true test of innovation and perseverance! Each team’s unique design approach is outlined below.


Team 1: Root 16
Opportunity: modular fruit and vegetable storage systemperch manu
Approach: focus on small-space solutions
Real-time challenge: shifting from the egg-making problem to the storage solution was time consuming

Team 2: MUGger
Opportunity: nontraditional mug to meet user needs
Approach: focus on branding and form—ergonomics and vessel and heat function
Real-time challenge: determining low-cost packaging material that is biodegradable and environmentally sound

Team 3: Perchbrielliant manu
Opportunity: mobile phone holder for kitchen use
Approach: focus on user survey and focus group
Real-time challenge: prototype testing which version offers the best functionality and aesthetics

Team 4: Brielliant
Opportunity: cheese board incorporating unique detail
and customization
Approach: focus on user journey map and product positioning
Real-time challenge: reducing the long word-curing process thatUnknown-9
slows down the next steps in the manufacturing process

Team 5: Living Flavors
Opportunity: table-top, hydroponic herb-growing station
Approach: focus on aesthetics and maintenance
Real-time challenge: getting the laser cutter to properly
work with the plywood for the box

Team 6: SushigamiSushigami manu
Opportunity: decorative sushi-rolling mat
Approach: focus on interviews and competitive product research
Real-time challenge: applying FDA-approved paints and glosses
for food safety

Stay tuned for the third installment of Inside the Integrated Design Lab, which will highlight the outcome at the sales gala as well as each team’s greatest challenges and lessons learned.

Inside the Integrated Design Lab: IDM Cohort Identifies “DFV”

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of news features that invite the reader inside IDM’s core class—the Integrated Design Lab. In this series contributor Melissa Ackermann delves into the inner workings of the lab, including lecture topics and project progress.

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As the fall semester reached its midpoint, IDM students wrapped up their first innovation project. They emerged with a newfound understanding of the intricacies involved in identifying user needs and the powerful impact that such information has on product design, in this case a dust pan and broom. After rigorous research, concept generation, and design process, students presented their individual solutions for floor cleaning, to address the unmet needs of their target markets. Not surprisingly, the solutions reflected uncanny creativity, ranging from a dust pan for pet hair with disposable sticky sheets to an elegant wooden work of art that not only would offer functional use, but also would raise the brow of any refined connoisseur of design.

Equipped with their newly cultivated skills, students set off to master their second project, which entails collaborating in six three-member teams comprised of one individual from each discipline—design, engineering, and business. The assignment is for each team to design a kitchen utensil solution that should ideally have five or fewer parts. Each team will be responsible for funding its own product and manufacturing 50. The ultimate goal is selling all 50 units for a profit at a sales gala on December 10. The students’ motivation to “show me the money!” takes on added meaning as they strive to complete their project. Although turning a profit is important, it’s equally imperative that the final product works incredibly well and is aesthetically pleasing.

All 18 students individually identified five business opportunities. They then narrowed down their own options to two, utilizing key metrics to determine the products’ market desirability (“D”), technical feasibility (“F”), and business viability (“V”). Next they prepared one-page overviews for each of the two best opportunitiesDFV_Page_06, 36 ideas in total, and pitched them to the class to vote on. Six products were chosen for development, and the students formed teams to focus on how to best to create winning products from these ideas.

Since each team will be able to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of a designer, an engineer, and a business mind they will be well on their way to creating a truly innovative and moneymaking product.

Stay tuned for the next update, which will highlight the newly formed teams and the products they have decided to develop.

Follow the individual teams on Facebook:

IDM Celebrates Launch with Heart

By Melissa Parrillo, IDM Assistant Director

The faculty, staff, and students of MIT Integrated Design & Management (IDM) gathered with a select group of early supporters to celebrate the inception of the program at the Middlesex Lounge, on Massachusetts Avenue, in Cambridge, on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

DSC02598“IDM is going to impact MIT …the entire realm of graduate education …the world,” SDM and IDM Faculty Codirector Steven D. Eppinger said in addressing the crowd. “The products, services, and experiences created by our grads are going to have positive impact on ecosystems, economics, and on people, and we’re going to be known for that.”

Offered jointly by the MIT School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, IDM is a graduate offering for early to mid-career professionals that integrates industrial design, engineering design, and other design disciplines with management.

The track was founded by IDM Director Matthew S. Kressy, an entrepreneur who founded Designturn and who had previously taught at MIT, Rhode Island School of Design, and Harvard Business School. At the launch party, Eppinger called Kressy “a visionary” as well as “a gifted teacher, an inspiring mentor of an entire generation of MIT and RISD students.”

Kressy, for his part, gave a moving speech in which he applauded several champions of the new offering and thanked IDM’s students for giving him the privilege of being their teacher. He described the new students as “driven, smart, compassionate, loving, open—amazing.”

IDM’s first cohort of 18 students arrived on campus on August 24, 2015. The nine men and nine women are a diverse group that hails from nine countries. The cohort, made up in equal parts of designers, engineers, and business professionals, bonded quickly in the students’ first two weeks on campus—during “boot camp.” A key feature of both SDM and IDM, “boot camp” is an intense period of classwork and team projects.

In the second week, for example, IDM students were tasked with designing and building musical instruments to play in concert, a project drawn from an analogy that Kressy has used to describe IDM—as an orchestra formed from diverse musicians and instruments.

Already, IDM students have delved into their first project—a six-week deep dive into product research that led to a formal research review on October 1, 2015. The presentations included reports on market research, needs research (and interviews), and observational research. In his speech, Kressy noted that the students’ work on this project had already impressed him as well as his co-instructors, Eppinger and Lecturer Serena Cheng.

“I can’t wait to see what happens when you leave this program and go out into that world,” Kressy told the students at the party. With a rush, the students surrounded Kressy in a speech-ending group hug.


The Mentor, the Maven, and Matt

By Melissa Parrillo, IDM Associate DirectorMatt.circa90

Neal Yanofsky, Shaun Modi, and Matt Kressy have all been invited to speak at the 2015 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges. The MIT System Design & Management (SDM) program selected this year’s speakers and theme, “A Whole Systems Approach to Product Design and Development,” with the synergies of sister track Integrated Design & Management (IDM) in mind. Yanofsky, Modi, and Matt in particular were chosen to speak because they share a deep understanding of the power of integrated design. Yanofsky, former president of Panera Bread, chairman of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, and board member and senior advisor of Snap Kitchen, and Modi, cofounder of TM, are particularly pleased to participate because of their longstanding relationships with Matt.

The mentor
Some years ago, when Matt was fresh out of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) but having trouble finding a design job, he applied to drive a delivery truck for Yanofsky. Recognizing Matt’s keen interest in business, however, Yanofsky hired him in sales and soon a friendship had developed over the little monochrome screen of a first-generation Macintosh computer; while the two reviewed profit and loss reports, and Yanofsky explained sales trends. “Matt quickly understood the business context. He really evolved over the years, and the student surpassed the teacher,” says Yanofsky, adding that he has also learned a lot from Matt over the years. “Matt is a great designer with a sense of pragmatism. For him design is never simply an end in itself. It contributes to a solution to a broader problem,” Yanofsky explains. “Matt asks, ‘How can design help?’ and he applies that to a purpose.” It is a lesson Yanofsky says he has applied in several senior roles at various companies over the years.

For his part, Matt recalls always being impressed by Yanofsky’s incredible awareness of user experience and his understanding that design is integral to a successful business. “Here is this Harvard Business School–educated man who understands intuitively the power of design,” Matt says of Yanofsky. “Neal’s understanding of the balance between user experience and operations greatly contributed to his ability to grow Panera from 15 stores to the Panera we know today. He lets design define the product and the value to the customer, and he uses operations to deliver that value without messing it up. He doesn’t let [operations] complicate the customer experience. That’s how Panera scaled up successfully.”

Yanofsky will share such valuable strategies in his keynote address, “Can Managers Contribute to Design that Creates Competitive Advantage?” at the MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges. There, IDM students will have the opportunity to learn from their teacher’s mentor.

The maven
Many years ago while teaching at RISD, Matt remembers reading “Shaun Modi is a god!” on the walls. Modi’s peers had recognized his special talents long before he took on design roles at NASA, Nokia, Motorola, Google, and Airbnb—even before he was named one of the Top 75 Designers in Technology by Business Insider in 2013. And Matt knew it as soon as he met his new student. “He is really intelligent, passionate and positive,” Matt says. “Shaun values design. He understands its value to society and his accomplishments speak to that.”

Modi has been out of RISD for 8 years now, but he acknowledges he’s still learning from Matt. The two correspond frequently and learn from each other, having developed a deep connection around their craft. Modi explained that he, like Matt, believes that it is important to continue to do the work. He said, “Always be practicing.”

Modi’s views on design align with IDM’s philosophy, which centers on balancing engineering, business, and design to bring new levels of creativity, vision, and integrity to business and society. Business leaders and students alike will benefit from Modi’s MIT SDM 2015 conference presentation, “The Creative Process Inside Startups: Best Practices and Lessons Learned.” Modi says, “As a complement to business, design can change the world. It needs to be part of what is feasible. There has to be collaboration making the product economical. Now, more than ever, design must partner with other disciplines.”

Join IDM in supporting the MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges: A Whole Systems Approach to Product Design & Development, which begins with a preconference session on October 6 featuring Matt’s talk, “Integrated Design Approach to Prototyping,” followed by conference sessions with Yanofsky and Modi on October 7. Stay for presentations by Todd P. Coleman, Ph.D., Steven D. Eppinger, Sc.D., Pat Hale, Matt Harper, Joan S. Rubin, and Maria Yang.

Andrew MacInnis Named IDM Technical Instructor


By Lois Slavin, Communications Director

Matt Kressy, director of Integrated Design & Management (IDM), has announced the appointment of Andrew MacInnis as IDM’s materials and methods instructor, effective July 1, 2015. In this role, MacInnis will teach design and prototyping to the inaugural IDM class as well as oversee operations in the new Integrated Design Lab, which is located in MIT’s International Design Center.

MacInnis comes to MIT with more than 20 years of iterative research and design expertise in the consumer, military, and sports industries. He also brings valuable hands-on experience gained from early career positions that evolved from shop hand to model maker, model shop manager, founder of Monster Prototype, and production manager-process developer. He holds a BFA in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Andy is one of the most accomplished creators I have ever met,” Kressy said. “We are thrilled to have him as part of our teaching team and look forward to watching our students marvel at what they are able to accomplish under his guidance.”

Most recently, MacInnis worked as product implementation manager at Revision Military, which designs and delivers protective equipment for soldiers worldwide. He was responsible for designing and establishing best practices in the composite and paint shops of the company’s composite center of excellence. He was a major contributor to the selection and refinement of materials and techniques for structural elements of a cutting-edge anti-ballistic helmet. He also wrote technical instructions and trained and managed staff.

“Our students are blessed to be coming of age in an era where options abound for the creation and development of their ideas. I am excited to guide each of them along their own paths to success,” MacInnis said.

Webinar: Integrated Design for Product Success

Matthew S. Kressy

Matthew S. Kressy
Photo by Dave Schultz

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Matthew S. Kressy, Director and Senior Lecturer, Integrated Design & Management, MIT

Date: November 3, 2014

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

Excellence in product design is at the heart of success, yet more products fail than succeed. Integrating a balance of design, engineering, and business is critical, but challenging. Getting it right in the midst of uncertainty can be messy, complex, and daunting.

In this webinar, Matthew S. Kressy, director of MIT’s newly established Integrated Design & Management master’s degree track, will discuss why product designs can succeed or fail. He will provide a high-level overview of strengths and weaknesses in currently popular design approaches. Then he will discuss:

  • Characteristics of good design approaches that are interdisciplinary and user-centered, yet also maximize creativity and embrace failure as a stepping stone;
  • Characteristics of weak design approaches, such as siloed thinking and fear of failure;
  • The importance of early integration of all product development disciplines;
  • A new model for educating design, engineering, and management professionals to be “tri-lingual” in these disciplines and work together more effectively;
  • General guidelines and a checklist to help organizations accurately assess their resources; and
  • Next steps to consider.

A Q&A will follow the presentation.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Matthew S. Kressy, director of MIT SDM’s newly established Integrated Design & Management (IDM) master’s degree track, currently co-teaches product design and development classes at MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design. He has also co-taught at Harvard, Babson College, and Olin School of Engineering.

Kressy has extensive expertise in globally distributed, interdisciplinary, design-driven product development, from deep user research and concept generation to prototype iteration, risk reduction, and volume manufacturing. An entrepreneur and founder of Designturn, he has designed, invented, engineered, and manufactured more than 100 products for Fortune 500 clients and others, including Kronos, Massachusetts General Hospital, APC, the US Army, and Teradyne Corporation.

He holds a B.F.A. in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

About MIT Integrated Design & Management

Formally launched in 2014 as a new track within the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program, Integrated Design & Management (IDM) integrates industrial design, engineering design, and other design disciplines with management. Offered jointly by the MIT School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, IDM is targeted at early to mid-career professionals and will be taught in an innovative design studio format. Graduates will be awarded a master of science degree in engineering and management.

Potential students and industry partners can learn more about IDM by contacting Matthew S. Kressy at An IDM website will launch in mid-October at

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Virtual Info Session Available On Demand


Learn about the MIT Master’s in Engineering and Management and the new track in Integrated Design & Management


Download the slides here. 

Please enjoy a virtual Information Session on a new MIT graduate offering, Integrated Design & Management (IDM). Graduates receive a master’s degree in engineering and management.

IDM is designed for early to mid-career professionals with experience in design, engineering, and/or management. It will begin in fall 2015.