The Master in Design Engineering (MDE) program is a two-year, collaborative degree program between the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). Since the program began with a single cohort of 15 students, we have grown into a community of 42 current students, 49 alumni, and dozens of faculty, staff, and external stakeholders who have enriched and guided the program. Throughout, the program’s mission has held fast, providing students with the necessary technical and critical skills to examine, understand, and develop solutions to some of the complex, vexing problems of our time.

Now, in what has been an unprecedented academic year due to COVID-19, the fourth cohort of MDE students will graduate and launch into the world, and this booklet presents their final projects—the Independent Design Engineering Projects (IDEP). Much like a thesis, IDEP requires a synthesis and application of the general approach and methods for examining, understanding, and developing solutions that students learned in the first year of the program. Additional skills are introduced and developed during the second year as part of the two-semeser IDEP course.

For IDEP, each student has selected a real-world, societal challenge of his/her choice to address across the two semesters. Working with stakeholders, students have leveraged a combination of design and engineering methods with the goal of producing and testing a prototype at the end of the spring semester. The end result is a range of projects as diverse as the students themselves, and pursuing those projects took the additional ingenuity and flexibility demanded by a global pandemic. To that end, the students have shown great resolve and adaptability in navigating upheaval, and we are proud of them and their dedication.

As a program, we present the 2021 projects!

Joanna Aizenberg
Program Co-director Master in Design Engineering

Martin Bechthold
Program Codirector Master in Design Engineering