Meet the Deans’ Design Challenge finalists

Sponsored by the Office of the President and hosted by the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), the annual deans’ innovation challenges draw proposals from across the university, each articulating a plan to tackle a pressing issue facing society. 

This year saw the addition of the Design Challenge, co-chaired by Dean Mohsen Mostafavi and Dean Cherry Murray of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which prompted students to reimagine urban life in the future by developing ideas that address issues arising from population growth.

In March, the deans announced 18 student teams as finalists, including four from the GSD. We sat down with the Design Challenge finalists to find out more about their propsals and what winning the challenge—and its $50,000 prize—would mean to them.

The winner of the Design Challenge will be announced following presentations at the Deans’ Design Challenge: Urban Life 2030 Demo Day on Thursday, May 22 at 5pm at the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Wendy Fok

Wendy Fok (DDes candidate) studies the ethical application of technical methods within digital fabrication and commodisation. Her project Resilient Modular Systems seeks to be the global leader in innovative building components and sustainable materials in the developing world.

Matan Mayer

Matan Mayer (DDes candidate) is developing metrics for measuring material recovery potential in buildings for recycling or reuse. His project MateriaLEASE offers temporary ownership of building components to help young ventures create better workspaces, while protecting the environment. 


s Papanikolaou

Dimitris Papanikolaou (DDes candidate) is studying the market economy of vehicle sharing programs. His project Cloudcommuting creates the first bike-sharing service that would replace trucks and employees with incentives to users who would redistribute bikes as needed.