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New design competition gives students a chance to leave their mark on MIT

The School of Architecture + Planning, along with the MIT Hobby Shop and Campus Activities Complex, launch MADFAB (MIT's Annual Design and Fabrication Competition).
CNC routed chair, designed and built by Noel Davis '06.
CNC routed chair, designed and built by Noel Davis '06.
Photo: Noel Davis
CNC routed bench made from Baltic Birch plywood.  Designed and built by Carl Solander '05.
CNC routed bench made from Baltic Birch plywood. Designed and built by Carl Solander '05.
Photo: Carl Solander '05

MIT students have a new opportunity to show off their inventive design skills, leave behind a legacy at MIT, and win $1,000. MADFAB, the first-ever design and fabrication competition at MIT, allows students to design a piece of furniture that could become a permanent part of campus.

Sponsored by the MIT Hobby Shop, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the MIT Campus Activities Complex, the inaugural MADFAB challenge is for students to work individually or as part of a team to design a digitally fabricated low table or bench. The winning design will be permanently installed in the MIT Student Center with a plaque commemorating the winning student or team.

“Since there is no furniture program at MIT, per se, we’re excited that students will have a chance to put their design expertise toward something that will have an impact on the aesthetics of our public spaces,” said Ken Stone, director of the MIT Hobby Shop.

“It’s an opportunity for students to live out the motto of ‘mind and hand’ and see their ideas come to fruition,” adds Chris Dewart, technical instructor in the Department of Architecture.

The winning piece will be an original, new design that is functional, durable, and can be made with computer numerical control (CNC) equipment in the Architecture Wood Shop and Hobby Shop. Students are encouraged to use efficient, cost effective materials or reuse discarded materials.

“Digital fabrication is a real revolution that allows detail to come back into objects, in this case, furniture,” said Stone. “It allows for precision and decoration, but is still easily done by anyone.”

The competition winner will be announced in April at a showcase event in which all contestants’ models will be displayed. Cash prizes — including $1,000 for the winner — will be awarded. The winning student or team will also have a chance to show their furniture to the world at the Furniture Society’s Conference, which will be held at MIT June 16-19. The conference brings some of the finest and most well known craftsmen in the world to MIT.

The competition is free and open to all MIT students. Deadline for registration is Feb. 5, 2010. Visit the MADFAB web site for more details including registration information, design criteria, and the MADFAB mailing list.

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