Amy Smith

MIT D-Lab Founding Director
Senior Lecturer Mechanical Engineering

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Amy Smith is the Founding Director of MIT D-Lab, an innovative university-based program in international development and a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is also the founder of the International Development Design Summit, co-founder of the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge, co-founder of Rethink Relief conference, and originator of the Creative Capacity Building Methodology.

Following her graduation from MIT in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering, she served in the US Peace Corps in Botswana. She went on to receive a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering and Master of Engineering degree, both from MIT.

In 2002, she founded MIT D-Lab. D-Lab works with people around the world to develop and advance collaborative approaches and practical solutions to global poverty challenges. Over 15 years, D-Lab has developed more than 20 MIT courses, hosts half a dozen research groups, and through the International Development Design Summits, has established a diverse international network of more than 1,000 innovators from four continents as well as local innovation centers in countries in Africa, Central America, South America, India, and Southeast Asia.

Amy was selected as a 2004 MacArthur Fellow and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010 for her work promoting local innovation and technology creation. She has done fieldwork in Senegal, South Africa, Nepal, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, and Indonesia. Her current projects are in the areas of water testing, treatment and storage, agricultural processing and alternative energy, and humanitarian innovation.

MIT D-Lab, founded by Smith in 2002 is a highly regarded education, research and development, and international development program with 25+ staff, enrollment of ~300 students annually; creator of 10 MIT courses focusing on technology design, international development, and humanitarian innovation; inventor and community organizer committed to poverty alleviation.

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