The SUTD-MIT International Design Centre at MIT is located adjacent to the MIT Museum on Massachusetts Avenue in MIT building number N52. The IDC occupies a portion of the 3rd floor and enjoys exterior wall exposures along the north, east, and south faces of the building. The space previously housed the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and undergraduate Department of Architecture design studios.
The IDC facilities at MIT house research students, researchers, visitors from SUTD and many other institutions worldwide, MIT principal investigators, staff and a variety of equipment and tools used in designing products, services and systems. The facilities at MIT also host a number of regular classes offered by MIT professors from the departments of architecture, material science and engineering, mechanical engineering, and others.
The IDC space is allotted to a variety of users and uses; L1-L4, Lab spaces; S1-S3, research assistant workstation; E1, Classroom space; G1, the IDC Invention Gallery. The balance of the space is comprised of faculty and PI offices (8), staff offices (4), conference rooms (2), and utility spaces and storage.
L1 Self-Assembly Lab (SAL)
Self-Assembly is a process by which disordered parts build an ordered structure through local interaction. The researchers of the SAL have demonstrated that this phenomenon is scale-independent and can be utilized for self-constructing and manufacturing systems at nearly every scale. The team has identified the key ingredients for self-assembly as a simple set of responsive building blocks, energy and interactions that can be designed within nearly every material and machining process available. Self-assembly promises to enable breakthroughs across a broad range of applications in biology, material science, software, robotics, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, construction, the arts, and even space exploration. The Self-Assembly Lab is working with academic, commercial, nonprofit, and government partners, collaborators, and sponsors to make our self-assembling future a reality. The lab is currently housed in one half of Room L1. Equipment includes 2 Makerbot 3D printers, 1 Form1 SLA 3D printer, a desktop injection molding machine, a desktop filament extruder for custom FDM printing material, a chemical fume hood, an electric furnace, various power tools and other equipment.
Little Devices Lab (LDL)
The Little Devices team at MIT develops empowerment technologies for health. We believe that innovation and design happens at the frontline of healthcare where providers and patients can invent everyday technologies to improve outcomes. By comparing the adaptive technology index of a given burden of disease, we can select promising devices that can have an impact on a particular disease. The resulting research portfolio is then matched with specific strategies for participatory design.
Our work is interdisciplinary and combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, biology, clinical medicine and global health. The LDL portfolio maps onto 4 different global disease burden domains using a growing toolkit of technologies and approaches. The lab is currently housed in one half of Room L1. Equipment includes chemical deposition and liquid handling machinery, environmental testing materials and equipment, an Arduino workbench, a soldering station, a Lab incubator, various mold making and polymer forming tools, a fully equipped microfluidics lab with the capacity to rapid prototype polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) chips, a Harrick Plasma cleaner, a heated Carver hydraulic press, and various Celestron microscopes.
L2 D-Lab Energy & Fuels Research:
Half the world’s population relies on wood and other solid fuels to meet their energy needs for cooking and heating. Inefficient use of these resources is contributing to mass deforestation, regional and global climate change and increasing burdens on households due to health risks from poor indoor air quality and rising fuel prices. Research at MIT led by Dan Sweeney, a research scientist in D-Lab, are addressing these challenges by empowering rural communities in developing countries to utilize abundant agricultural and other waste resources to produce inexpensive, clean burning fuel alternatives to conventional forest-derived fuels. Dan and his team are assisting several community-based enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa to improve methods and setup supply chains for converting farm waste (e.g. corn cobs, rice husks, nut shells) into charcoal briquettes which can be used as a substitute for wood charcoal, the preferred cooking fuel for most households this area. This provides rural communities with an additional source of income, and consumers with an lower-cost alternative. In their lab in the IDC, the team is conducting evaluations of “green charcoal briquettes” in a controlled laboratory experiments to determine their impact on fuel savings, cooking performance, and emissions of harmful combustion products using advanced measurement methods. These results are verified with field evaluations during actual use conditions and used to help improve these waste-derived fuels to meet user requirements.
Another team has set up a station to investigate the relation between the human body and design through the use of a Kuka robot arm and other implements. The work with the Kuka robotic arm to constitutes an investigation on how designers use embodied intelligence to solve design problems through physical interaction with the environment. The work is led by Prof. Larry Sass and conducted by research assistant Daniel Smithwick who is currently running experiments to understand the differences between novice and expert designers in physical modeling tasks. The primary goal of the work is the development of physical computing technologies that can enhance physical modeling skills.
In addition, the space has been outfitted for the layup of small to mid-size novel composite assemblies. Currently, this work is led by Prof. Joel Lamere and his student David Costanza of the Department of Architecture at MIT. The work is sponsored through a Design Study Grant and involves the investigation of vacuum-formed composite panels and pillows for architectural structural and nonstructural applications. A high-powered vacuum pump and associated equipment is kept in this space.
L3 and L4 contain a variety of computer controlled and analog equipment and tools.