A first book of work from
the Harvard MDE program.

Food Systems is a collection of research and design work from the Master in Design Engineering (MDE) program, a new collaboration between the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University — focused on addressing some very complex and very messy problems.

As the first publication of the first cohort of MDE students, presenting work from their first-year Collaborative Engineering Studio, Food Systems not only reflects a diversity of student backgrounds, perspectives and interests, but also demonstrates the kind of productive outcomes that can emerge from real interdisciplinary collaboration.

The projects contained within propose sustainable development to support local food, programs to celebrate cuisine and cultural identity, a digital assistant to combat food insecurity, novel uses of food as flexible material, metrics for preserving traditional farming practices, as well as a restaurant that builds community and strengthens social relationships.

As a set of ideas — some of which are now in the process of becoming real projects and actual ventures — and an example of new practice, Food Systems offers critical insight into ways of working to solve hard problems and address human challenges.

“We are confident that we are on track to creating a fundamentally disruptive, silo-busting, dot-connecting curriculum and pedagogical model. We believe that our experiment has great promise to produce outside-the-box thinkers and doers, a new breed of design engineers who will make a positive difference in the world.”
Frank Doyle + Mohsen Mostafavi - Harvard SEAS and GSD Deans

“The launch of the MDE program highlights Harvard University’s formal recognition that many of today’s most challenging problems require enabling students to look beyond established disciplines and embrace a new fluidity of methods and approaches.” Martin Bechthold + Woodward Yang - MDE Co-Directors

“For the inaugural year, the topical breadth of the studio gave everyone, instructors included, an opportunity to come up to speed on a critically important — if ungainly — system that matters.”
Jock Herron, Chuck Hoberman, Peter Stark - Studio Faculty

“We're all not quite practitioners, but also not quite content to be students in a more traditional professional master's program ... this book is for anyone in the process of collaborating across traditional siloed, professional boundaries. It is about working through complex topics to make something that might make a difference.”
Brian Ho + Michael Raspuzzi - Co-Editors In Chief

Brian Ho
Michael Raspuzzi
Ngoc Doan
Chien-Min Lu
Karen Su
Zeerak Ahmed
Neeti Nayak
openMDE is the student organization for the MDE program at the Harvard GSD and SEAS
(c) 2018