Frequently Asked Questions

D-Lab

How can I get involved in D-Lab?

The most straightforward way of getting involved in D-Lab is taking any of its classes. In order for you to take any of the D-Lab classes, you must be an MIT student or a student of any other institution with which MIT has a cross-registration agreement (e.g. Harvard University and Wellesley College). Please check the cross-registration page from the Office of the Registrar, and consult your own institution Registrar's Office.

You can take any of the D-Lab classes as unrestricted electives from the Edgerton Center listings (Special Programs, SP). Some of the classes are also cross-listed in other departments as restricted electives and fulfill requirements for specific concentrations in different degrees. Please check with each department for further details.

D-Lab classes target mostly undergraduate students, with the exceptions of Development Ventures that is mostly targeted for MBA students. In either case, however, any undergraduate or graduate student can take any D-Lab class.

How can I get involved, other than taking a class?

In addition to its academic offerings, D-Lab offers research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike. Undergraduate students usually work on D-Lab projects outside the class through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Project (UROP) and the International Research Opportunities Project (IROP). Check these websites for more details, and then get in touch directly with any D-Lab instructor to be your project supervisor.

Many students choose to continue working on projects that they started in class to return to their field sites for longer periods of time, conduct field tests and get user feedback to refine their designs or start implementing their projects on the ground. Support for these activities comes mostly from the MIT Public Service Center through its fellowships and internships program, expedition grants and the IDEAS Competition.

Graduate students have chosen to pursue their Masters or Doctoral thesis in D-Lab related work. These are considered on a case by case basis, and are usually co-advised by Faculty from other departments.

I am an incoming undergraduate student and I’d like to get involved with D-Lab right away. How can I start?

 

We now offer a class that is just for freshmen, D-Lab: Discovery.  Discovery is a six-unit seminar course structured as a series of modules, each teaching different aspects of creativity, problem solving and prototyping skills. We will challenge you to apply your creativity to specific engineering problems in the context of international development. This seminar will be an excellent opportunity to interact with the entire D-Lab staff, as well as other faculty at the Institute that share an interest in international development work.
You can also talk to D-Lab staff about UROP opportunities, or take any of our design-focused D-Lab courses offered in the Spring semester.

We now offer a class that is just for freshmen, D-Lab: Discovery.  Discovery is a six-unit seminar course structured as a series of modules, each teaching different aspects of creativity, problem solving and prototyping skills. We will challenge you to apply your creativity to specific engineering problems in the context of international development. This seminar will be an excellent opportunity to interact with the entire D-Lab staff, as well as other faculty at the Institute that share an interest in international development work.

You can also talk to D-Lab staff about UROP opportunities, or take any of our design-focused D-Lab courses offered in the Spring semester.

Is D-Lab open to all majors? Do some majors get higher priority in lotteried classes?

D-Lab is open to students from all majors from all five schools at MIT, and in fact it is the diverse backgrounds of our students and the multidisciplinary teams that make D-Lab a richer experience. Any class can be taken as an unrestricted elective (and some can be taken for specific course credit), and there are no prerequisites for any class.

Some classes are oversubscribed and will require a lottery at the beginning of the semester, but this is a randomized lottery, with no prioritization.

Can I get a degree through D-Lab?

D-Lab is not a degree-granting program, and hence does not offer Bachelors, Masters or PhD degrees. We offer a variety of classes open to all MIT students (and  Harvard and Wellesley College). We also do have undergraduate and graduate students doing research work in D-Lab, but they apply and are admitted to MIT through any other department. Once they get in, they may take some of the D-Lab classes, or find opportunities to do research in D-Lab, co-advised by faculty from their departments.

When can I visit D-Lab?

D-Lab hosts an open hour every Tuesday when MIT classes are in session from 12 noon to 1pm. Feel free to stop by, chat with D-Lab staff, and tour our spaces. Just fill out this form to request a tour.

Oh no! I can’t make your open hours times. Can I come at a different day/time?

We would really appreciate it if you can plan a visit during our open office hours. However, we will consider requests for alternate meeting times on a case-by-case basis; you can email us at d-lab@mit.edu  to let us know your situation.

I am a current/incoming student and I am interested in learning more about your research opportunities. Do you have any research openings?

Sometimes we have specific research projects in mind that we are looking for students for (which we will post on the Opportunities page), but often projects will come out of an interest that the student has in mind that fits within D-Lab’s goals and vision. We recommend that you stop by our open office hours to talk to staff and instructors and see if there is a mutual interest/opportunity.

I would love to work at D-Lab. Do you have any job openings?

We have job listings and teaching/research openings  posted on our Opportunities page. 

I’m interested in learning about your work with agricultural waste charcoal/I am interested in implementing this in the field. Where can I find more information?

Please visit our Resources page to learn more about the project and the instructions for the charcoal-making process.  If you are making charcoal from a new material or with a different binder, please be sure to do emissions testing on your briquettes to make sure that there are no harmful emissions.

You can contact the charcoal team directly at charcoal@mit.edu  for more information about where the project has been and lessons learned.

Is someone at D-Lab interested in speaking at my event?

Maybe! People at D-Lab travel often, so the more advance notice you can give with your request, the better. You can email d-lab@mit.edu for speaking requests.

D-Lab Development

I've heard there is a lottery to get into this class, how does the lottery work?

D-Lab Development has been oversubscribed by more than 200% over the past several years, and continues to be. In addition to doubling class size (fall 2008), we have had to come up with a mechanism to grant spaces for this class, hence the class lottery. The class lottery is held on the first day of classes, and attendance is mandatory if you are enrolled in the class, since registration per se doesn't directly imply that you can take the class. After a presentation of the course, each attendee is asked to fill in a student profile. The results of the lottery are published before the next class, and that serves as the definitive list of enrolled students. If you don't make it in a given semester, you may want to consider taking another class of the D-Lab family offered in the fall:

If you register for this class, but don't get into the lottery; please make sure that you drop the class with the Registrar's Office, as it does not happen automatically.

Scale-Ups

I graduated from an MIT graduate program, am I eligible for the Scale-Ups program?

Yes, graduates from MIT undergraduate or graduate programs are eligible.

I didn’t graduate from MIT but took D-Lab classes while registered at another school — am I eligible to apply?

If you have graduated within the time period specified, and meet all other eligibility criteria, we may be able to consider your application. Please contact Saida Benhayoune at saidab@mit.edu to discuss.

Will I have to give up my part-time job to participate?

We understand the need to pay your bills but expect significant commitment of your time (and over-time) to be devoted to your fellowship.

How are funds disbursed for selected projects?

The Scale-Ups Phase II Fellowship is not a lump sum award. Phase I and II Scale-Ups Fellows will get an MITemp appointment and a procurement card to spend against their budgets for the duration of their grant period.