A rotating carousel of images representing learn, imagine, build. The first image is of four people investigating a red and white structure in the Hybrid Formations course. The second image is a group of students pinning postits of ideas on the wall for critique. The third image is of a student helping place a VR headset on another for a project presentation.


The Master in Design Engineering (MDE) program prepares a new generation of leaders to create transformative solutions that address societal grand challenges.

MDE studio project wins 2023 Fast Company awards

TINA, a bioremediation project by Mimi Kigawa (MDE ‘23), Riad El Soufi (MDE ‘24), and Connie Wang (MDE ‘24), was featured in Fast Company. The project aims to pull manganese from water and repurpose it for lithium-ion batteries. 

A close up angled shot of the Urdu keyboard on an iPhone

Zeerak Ahmed (MDE ’18) brings software innovation to Urdu

In this essay, Zeerak Ahmed (MDE ‘18) writes about his journey to modernize software for the Urdu language and the Arabic script.

Packaging for Alba, a tactile menstrual wipe

Studio Project “Alba” recognized by three awards

Alba, by Binita Gupta, Deepika Gopalakrishnan, Priyanka Pillai (all MDE ’24), and Shravya Kanithi, empowers visually-impaired individuals to detect the onset of their period with a tactile menstrual wipe.

An infographic representing the iterative process of the program. Three white dots point to the next with a red arrow in a continuous cycle.

Working through iterative cycles of understanding, imagining, and building, our integrated approach to design and engineering is uniquely positioned to address the world’s toughest challenges.

Our world’s increasingly complex problems demand a deep understanding of underlying problem architecture, the capacity to imagine bold futures, and the ability to build and test prototypes geared toward maximum impact.

Interdisciplinary work is at the core of MDE. Our faculty and students navigate multiple disciplines and fields when setting out to investigate problems, ask better questions, and build novel, real-world solutions.

Two schools at Harvard University – the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) – are equal partners to support the collaborative MDE program.

The MDE program combines GSD methods of analysis, visualization, conceptual inquiry, and open-ended exploration with the rigor and quantitative power of the engineering disciplines at SEAS to address problems far beyond traditional design and engineering fields.

White logos for the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Graduate School of Design (GSD) with a red plus sign between them.


Our students become thought leaders in a variety of roles. The MDE program supports a broad set of career goals, ranging from roles in industry, government, and NGO’s, to the academy and startups.


Graduates between 2018 and 2021 who joined or launched startups within three years of graduation. Startups include Hyka, TOP-YARD, and DayToDay Health.


Graduates between 2018 and 2021 who became product managers or product designers. Employers include Spotify, Amazon, Pocket Gems, the U.S. Department of Defense, and HP.


Graduates who became researchers or strategists, including at IDEO, Deloitte, Johnson & Johnson, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Stanford University.

Ed Bayes sitting at a blue table smiling at the camera.

Meet Ed Bayes


Before coming to MDE, Ed Bayes (MDE ’22) studied law and anthropology and worked in law and public policy in the UK, where he advised the Treasury and the mayor of London on tech, business, and climate policy.

Meet Priyanka Pillai


Priyanka Pillai (MDE ’24) wanted to take on big problems and learned how good design can help. Read about her background, projects, and experience conducting fieldwork in Uganda.

2019 Civic Digital Fellow Kiran Wattamwar presents her work with a large screen behind her at Demo Day in Washington, D.C.

Meet Kiran Wattamwar


Kiran Wattamwar (MDE ’19) is a former Civic Digital Fellow and reflects on her experience in this interview for the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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