Maria Yang is the Gail E. Kendall (1978) Professor of mechanical engineering, faculty director for academics in the MIT D-Lab, and founder and director of MIT’s Ideation Lab. In her role as associate dean of engineering, she is focused on bolstering undergraduate and graduate academic programming and contributing to strategic initiatives at the school and Institute levels such as design, improving student experiences, and advancing opportunities for faculty support and mentoring, work that she has already begun through past and present department and Institute appointments.
Yang graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering (1991), after which she headed to Stanford University where she earned a master’s (1994) and PhD (2000) from the mechanical engineering department’s design division. She joined the MIT faculty in 2007.
Yang is an internationally recognized leader in design theory and design process, with a focus on the role of design representations. Her research considers early-stage processes used to create successful designs, from consumer products to complex, large-scale engineering systems. Yang has made significant advances in characterizing the relationship between design process and outcome. This work has been recognized by an NSF CAREER award, and in 2013, she was named an ASME Fellow in recognition of her engineering achievements.With a focus on teaching students how to uncover ways to improve design in the world around them, Yang created 2.00 Introduction to Design, and has taught a number of other undergraduate courses including 2.00B Toy Product Design and 2.009 Product Engineering Processes, and graduate courses 2.739/15.783 Product Design and Development, in collaboration with Sloan and the Rhode Island School of Design, and 2.729/EC.729 D-Lab: Design for Scale.
In recognition of her contributions to engineering education, Yang was named a 2017 MacVicar Faculty Fellow, in addition to being the recipient of multiple teaching awards including a 2016 Bose Award, the 2014 Ruth and Joel Spira Award, and a 2012 Earll M. Murman Award. She is the recipient of a 2014 ASEE Fred Merryfield Design Award, a 2014 Capers and Marion McDonald Mentoring Award, a 2013 ASME Design Theory and Methodology Best Paper Award, and a 2008 Robert N. Noyce Career Development Professorship.
From her days as an undergraduate to her role as a faculty member, Yang has made an indelible mark on the school of engineering and the Institute. In the department of mechanical engineering, she was the Faculty Ambassador to undergraduates until becoming Undergraduate Officer in the fall 2018. She served as mechanical engineering’s Area Head for Design and Manufacturing and was the co-organizer of the Rising Stars in Mechanical Engineering in 2018. She was a member of the extended committee for the New Engineering Educational Transformation (NEET) program, and a member of the Faculty Advisory Board for the Technical Leadership Program. She was the Chancellor’s Designated Representative for the Committee on Undergraduate Programs and was a member of the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee on Institute-Wide Affairs. She also recently co-chaired a cross-Institute faculty committee on the future of design at MIT, and currently serves on the faculty steering committee for the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium.