MIT Goes MAD for Making

Maker and design workshops facilitated by members of the MIT community engage over one hundred participants in experiential learning in unique topics from textiles to portfolio development.

By Michelle Luo

Mar 8, 2024

Creativity flourishes every winter when MIT undergraduates, graduate students, staff, and faculty alike come together to share and learn new skills. With support from MIT MAD, members of the MIT community proposed and facilitated activities engaging maker and design skills during the 2024 Independent Activities Period (IAP).

Image: Conor McArdle

Activities varied in format and ranged in length from multiple or single-week courses to single-day workshops. These activities provided participants of diverse backgrounds opportunities to learn outside the traditional classroom setting.

MIT MAD, in partnership with the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) and the Climate Nucleus, also distributed over twenty mini-grants to undergraduate and graduate students to lead activities and personal projects for social impact and sustainability.


Learn to Quilt, with Jane Halpern

Over the course of eight sessions, students designed, laid out, and sewed their own throw-size quilts. Quilting took place in the Metropolis makerspace, which boasts a variety of sewing equipment and resources. The workshop was facilitated by Jane Halpern, Communications Officer in the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Weaving with Recycled Clothing, with Jess Osserman

Participants weaved a personal work on a laser-cut lap loom and collectively weaved a rug out of old clothing on a four-shaft floor loom with instruction from Jess Osserman, Maker Technical Specialist for Project Manus.

Sew a Shop Apron, with Chris Haynes

Participants each cut and sewed a custom-fit shop apron out of waxed canvas suited for future making or cooking. Chris Haynes, MIT MAD shop manager, led the workshop.

Maker Skills

Design for Welding, with Seth Avecilla

Participants designed and welded their own steel table frame with a matching wooden table top. Seth Avecilla, Maker Technical Specialist for Project Manus, guided students through the metal fabrication process including MIG welding, fixturing, post-weld processing, and finishing.

Glass & Metal Lamp Making, with Cat Arase

Cat Arase ‘22, MechE graduate student and maker, led a workshop for participants to make a unique metal-framed lamp which combined methods of welding and glasswork.

Table Saw Fundamentals, with Jess Osserman

Students learned safe and effective use of the table saw and built a small box with the help of Jess Osserman.

Intro to Book Biding, with Katherine Gilbreath

The two-day workshop guided students through the process of creating handmade books with Japanese stab binding and long stitch techniques. Katherine Gilbreath, Administrative Assistant for Project Manus, led the workshop.

Electric Guitar Making Workshop, with Santiago Yrigolla, Edwin Balderas, and Lee Zamir

Students fabricated wooden instrument bodies and installed necks, bridges, strings, and electric components to make electric guitars.

Advanced Blinking Lights & Intro to the Internet of Things, with Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy, who serves as the staff liaison between Project Manus and IS&T, facilitated two workshops, Advanced Blinking Lights and Intro to the Internet of Things, geared toward students with no prior electronics or programming experience.

Guest Designers

Building Complex Curvature from Flat Sheets, with Nervous System

MAD hosted designers Jessica Rosenkrantz ‘05 and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, co-founders of the design studio Nervous System, for their week-long workshop in which participants created a three-dimensional, organically-shaped sculpture from flat, rigid metal.

Watch the interview with Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg:


Climate Solutions Ideathon, with MITdesignX

Students came together at the Climate Solutions Ideathon to develop feasible solutions to the climate crisis over the course of three days with a framework based on MITdesignX curriculum. The Ideathon was supported by Prof. Svafa Grönfeldt and Gilad Rosenzweig, executive director of MITdesignX.

From Watersheds to Airstreams: GIS & HYSPLIT, Bill McKenna

Bill McKenna, MAD's technical instructor who supports the DesignPlus First-Year Learning Community, led a workshop geared toward undergraduate architecture students introducing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and HYSPLIT to understand the atmosphere and climate.


MAD also supported workshops that assisted students in developing a design portfolio from learning how to use portfolio building tools to taking quality photos of one’s work. The Design Portfolio Workshop guided undergraduate and graduate students with a body of design work and documentation through the theory and practice of producing and curating a portfolio.

  • Design Portfolio Workshop, with Miko McGinty
  • Creation Tools Office Hours, with Chris Murphy
  • Capturing Great Digital Media, with Conor McArdle

Have an idea for a design or making-related community activity? Stay tuned for opportunities from MIT MAD and Project Manus to make your idea a reality next IAP.


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