DesignPlus is a learning community open to MIT first-year undergraduates. It’s a space for hands-on experimentation and exploration, acquiring technical skills, finding mentors and mutual support, and having fun. Approximately 50 students join each year to discover different facets of design, both in theory and in practice.

All students—from any background, field of study, or with any technical abilities—have the potential to be makers and designers. DesignPlus was created to boost prototyping and design capacities among first-year undergraduates at MIT before they select a major.

Video of DesignPlus first-year Learning Community

“DesignPlus” stands for “Design + any discipline.” It is a plastic space, where everything is possible and open-ended. It offers weekly seminars, full time access to a supporting makerspace (with conventional working tools, 3D printing and modeling softwares, laser-cutting...), dedicated and passionate technical instructors, faculty mentoring, and a community of like-minded peers within MIT.

In the DesignPlus community, students explore design disciplines across the full spectrum of MIT. As they build new skills and meet other design leaders, our students envision, prototype, and iterate their design ideas together. In DesignPlus, students hit the ground running in their first year at MIT!

— John Ochsendorf, Founding Director of the MIT Morningside Academy for Design

Read more about the DesignPlus community

Are you passionate about design?

If you were admitted to MIT and will soon join as an undergraduate, you can apply to join the DesignPlus First-Year Learning Community. Our purpose is to help you build design into your education, whichever field or major you might choose, and to support you and your projects.

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a designer? We have no such expectations! DesignPlus is a starting point to explore design and to learn by doing.

What you’ll do

  • Meet for a weekly seminar exploring different aspects of design with about 30 creative peers
  • Meet for a weekly lunch in the DesignPlus space
  • Work on design projects of your choice
  • Learn rapid prototyping, and use a variety of fabrication tools and techniques in a dedicated makerspace
  • Receive mentorship from dedicated faculty and technical instructors
  • Have the opportunity to work on personal projects with the help of mentors, (past examples include lamps, terrariums, family gifts, jewelry and other objects...)
  • Learn about exciting design opportunities like internships, UROPs, international travel, and project funding
  • Imagine, design, and build things from scratch
  • Make friends, and find a second home on campus

Who you’ll meet

Stefanie Mueller
John Ochsendorf

Paul Pettigrew
Maria Yang

Technical instructor
Bill McKenna

Design guests
Examples from other years include Skylar Tibbits, Bon Ku, Libby Hsu...

DesignPlus community
About 30 creative peers from your year, and DesignPlus students from former years.
Students meet in person once or twice a week, and can always be in touch through Discord.


1. What exactly are first-year learning communities?

A learning community is a group of students, faculty and staff with common academic goals and interests who meet regularly to collaborate on classwork and engage in discussion.
Learning Communities are noted for their efforts to improve overall student success on campus, both inside and outside of the classroom. MIT’s learning communities are student-focused and provide students the opportunity to participate in small, interactive classes, have access to their own physical lounges on campus, and participate in a variety of programs and events.
DesignPlus is one of four first-year learning communities, and acts as an advising resource while providing activities.

2. Do I need experience in design to join DesignPlus?

No, you do not need any prior experience in design to join DesignPlus. What matters are your interests and motivation to engage in the projects and community.

3. Are there any required GIR classes for DesignPlus students?

DesignPlus does not have required GIR classes for now.

4. Are there any course requirements for DesignPlus students?

Yes, there is a weekly seminar for all students enrolled in DesignPlus.

5. How are hands-on projects used to enhance the undergraduate learning experience?

There are many hands-on design/making opportunities across MIT, in various departments, classes, majors, minors, and extracurricular activities/groups.
DesignPlus faculty, advisors, and associate advisors will work with DesignPlus students to identify the classes within their anticipated major/minor placing an emphasis on making as part of the learning process.