MITBetter World (Westchester/Fairfield): Panel discussion

MITBetter World (Westchester/Fairfield): Panel discussion


And now we look forward to leaning on you. If I can invite Marty and Stephanie to come
up and join me on stage. We encourage you to submit some questions. We promise you to try to have the answers. Please use Poll Everywhere. I have one question to use to kick us off. Thank you. Actually, I’ve one question for each. So you got about about, well, a couple minutes
in order to send your thoughts. Stephanie. So it was an amazing story. I don’t mean to be the cynic here, but how
do you get landlords to give you their space? Or do you have to pay for it? Or like, how does that go with them? – Yeah, absolutely. So I will say when we first started out, Ellen
and I spammed probably all of the brokers in Boston, we called all the, for lease, signs. And it was a true struggle to convince someone
to really let us or, I guess, to take that chance on us. But increasingly, as we’ve been able to prove
ourselves, and also prove how our engagement actually increases the value of these spaces,
we’ve been able to partner with landlords. So oftentimes, that may result in either a
revenue share or a management sort of fee that we receive. – So there’s like revenue sharing potential. – Exactly. – There’s revenue sharing potential, I’m just
saying. That’s great. Thank you. Marty. When you talked about the Met warehouse and
the maker space, it was inspiring to talk about accessibility, can you say a little
bit more about that? – Sure, I want everybody in the room to imagine
that you sit in a wheelchair, and almost every tool that you wanna use in the makerspace
is got all the controls way up here, right? Can you imagine experience that you would
have in that makerspace? And then also the benches that you have to
work on, they’re all at a height where when you’re in that wheelchair, you’re gonna have
to reach up and you’re gonna have to work like this, right? What we’re going to have to do to make that
place accessible to everybody, is to build tables that can move up and down and be adjusted. And then to figure out all the things that
somebody that’s of a different physical ability would have difficulty with, and then build
into the space, and this is a great thing about it is, MIT people are gonna have to
build these things ’cause you cannot buy ’em. To build into the spaces, the ways that we
help those students out, and then take that and put it out to other universities. So this makes it possible for students at
other universities to do this as well. – Thank you. Stephanie, I have a question for you. So, the question from the audience, in this
case is, how do you evaluate the proposals you received for art installations and events
and so on keeping in mind that my son is taking a drawing class? But, how do you choose from among the various
artists? – Yeah, absolutely. So I would say like, we come from a stance
that everybody has the ability to make art. I think we’re incredibly optimistic. And also coming from a background of museums
sort of seeing how people treat art and feel like they could never make something like
that. It’s something we definitely want to discourage. I would say, a lot of the things that we do
really encourage collective making. So people coming together to make, to sort
of participate in a larger experience. And that experience is something we curate
heavily, to make the experience feel positive. But yeah, I would say like we are open to
a lot of proposals, we often help bridge the gap between someone’s sort of, we help them
do their first thing, if that makes sense. – Sure, yes. So that’s a bit, taking a chance. – Yeah, we take a chance. We take chances on a lot of people. – That’s a bet. That’s great. Marty, this question is, if you did, how did
you convince students to leave their dorm rooms and start using community makerspaces
again? – Oh, I didn’t. That was one of the first lessons I learned
is, you can’t make the students do anything. This is the way to make that happen, though. And it’s just to let the students lead. I mean, in the new kind of community makerspaces
we’re talking about, the majority of them are student run. And actually the very first one we build as
a prototype, people were worried about safety. And so I hired an outside safety person to
come in and do an analysis of a bunch of safety and a bunch of makerspaces at MIT. And that student run facility, that community
makerspace, was the only space that person evaluated, there’s about 10 or 12 of them
that didn’t have a safety violation. Because, and this is important to the initial
question you asked. It’s the students that form the community
that make other students want to come. And it’s the students that set the culture,
and the students know, it needs to be safe. They really care about their fellow students
working in those places. And so the answer is, I don’t do any of that. I just help to facilitate the students that
do it. – So I feel like I’m picking a tough question
for me if I could. And the question for Dave is, where’s the
data on the approach you describe for helping students develop leadership traits? How do you know it’s effective? And so, it’s actually a really great question. I think it’s kind of an MIT question, which
is good. There are two kinds of data. One is published data that comes from other
people that’s not from MIT, showing how traits have been able to be changed by people. The literature on that is growing. Probably the largest body of literature so
far, at least that I’ve seen is around empathy as a trait. The measurement of traits is, well is a controversial
topic in itself and probably takes too long for us to go through here. But that is one of the ways that we’re led
to believe that these approaches are effective. With respect to the specific students that
go through these projects though, we do self report measures of their experiences. That is kind of what people do in measuring
traits anyway. But I don’t wanna suggest to you that we’re
at the end of that path. We’ve for a couple of years now been working
on better approaches to be able to measure the effectiveness in order to bring out to
other schools, this kind of approach to developing traits. But thank you for the question. Stephanie, do you have a way to measure the
success of a spaceless installation? – Yeah, absolutely. So the way that we measure success. I guess there are a few ways that we do this
primarily, because we have like a range of projects. So when we’re turning an empty storefront
into one of these spaces, oftentimes, we basically look at a space, like look at a floor plan
and we look at ways that we’re able to separate that space and sort of sub license it, if
you will. And we charge, I guess, we charge people to
use the space, we have some of it is sponsored or like we waive the fee, and I would say
like, broadly speaking, we look at the the monthly revenue and we compare it to what
the monthly revenues are for neighboring spaces. So if we see that we’re able to match sort
of the prices that the landlord is asking for, but isn’t able to get it, then we’re
able to demonstrate our value that way. – Thank you. So Marty. There’s a question about products and businesses
that have been launched based on, it says your current makerspaces. Maybe interpret the question as you like. – Okay. So the makerspaces that I run at MIT, there’s
a small subset. We run those with a specific focus on supporting
the entrepreneurs and the innovators. But we’re not doing the teaching of entrepreneurship
and innovation. And it turns out actually, that students that
start businesses that require making, the typical path for them is they actually start
in the Sloan School, there’s Martin Trust Center and there a partner with us. And so we help them build a makerspace in
their Entrepreneurship Center. And so they start there in programs like Delta
V and other programs of that nature. And then when they need to come do more than
3D printing or laser cutting, they come to us where we have the heavy metal working,
electronics, et cetera. And so, we really don’t generate the companies
out of our makerspaces, where the support for them when we need it. And so basically, we’re like stage number
two, for the folks that come out of the Sloan School. And it’s been really useful for us to build
our maker spaces so they work together well. So if you get trained over in the Sloan spaces,
you can come over to our spaces and you don’t have to get retrained. That’s one of the things we’re going for the
entrepreneurs ’cause they’re just not having getting trained twice. But that’s the way that we support entrepreneurship
on campus. – Yeah. Can I just add– – Sure. – What I think is a friendly amendment to
that. You mentioned the Trust Center. A lot of the activity at MIT, it does have
the outcome of developing a very successful new products and new businesses, but the goal
of MIT in those activities is typically education first, and to develop the entrepreneur, more
than the product. In part because, of course, the products change. But in part also, because our purpose centrally
is to help students learn to be the entrepreneurs that they will need to be, if not for a lifetime,
at least for an extended period. And I think what you talked about– – Exactly. It gets back to the issue of experience, right? As we support the experience of them, getting,
for example, their first prototype or starting their first startup. But mostly we work with folks over in the
Trust Center and the Sloan School as far as this is concerned. – Yes. – Yeah. – There’s another one that came for me. And it says, it’s great that you’re helping
students develop traits like courage and resilience, how can I learn and develop these traits myself? Of course, we have programs at the MIT Sloan
School of . The joke is a response. But I wanna take only a minute to tell you
something. I can’t see hands very well. But how many people have sometime watched
the original movie, ‘The Wizard of Oz?’ So some, okay. So it’s a story about a girl, Kansas, a dog. She goes to some other place, and then she’s
trying to go home. And she needs help to get home. She gets help from the scarecrow, who doesn’t
have very much intelligence. We’re not gonna talk more about the scarecrow. But she also gets help from the tin man. And from… That’s right, the Cowardly Lion, and the tin
man who doesn’t have a heart. So it’s all a fantasy movie, of course. There’s no connection with reality at all. Except that these two entities, the Cowardly
Lion and the tin man chose to care about this individual, this girl, chose to try to help
her in a setting where there was personal risk and danger for them. And in doing so, they called on something
that in theory, they didn’t have, blind didn’t have courage, but had to protect this individual. The tin man didn’t have empathy, but chose
to put himself in a position where empathy was gonna be called on. So the question to me was, how can we develop
these traits ourselves? The opportunities to do that are all around,
every day. The Wizard of Oz wasn’t a fantasy. It was a pre scientific study of the ways. I just made that up. Of the ways that traits are actually changed. It was Frank Baum who wrote the book, understood
that before the psychologists did. Stop there! Oh, so Stephanie. Send me an email today. I’m happy to send you some of my thoughts. Not about the film. So Stephanie, I’m gonna paraphrase it slightly
if I could. The Suburbs need help, too. Is this also part of your vision? Or can you talk about suburbs? – Yeah, absolutely. I would say suburbs are definitely on our
radar. And I think part of what this platform was
built for is really to handle the issues that we can’t manage sort of day to day and sort
of make it easy for someone in a place that might not be on our target list, but equally
needs help. And we wanna make it easy for everyone to
sort of work together and make cities feel good again. – That’s really great. Thank you. I get another question about how we know that
this is working with students. I don’t mean to minimize it. But I have to answer. So the question is, you survey students, how
do you control for students giving? Only the information that you want to hear,
it’s awfully easy to give the expected answers and so on. So we don’t actually tell them the purpose
of the survey. They don’t actually know that they’re doing
the projects for these purposes, and they’re open ended in what they write. So that’s the last thing I’m gonna say about
the measurement of these traits for tonight. Maybe for both of you, if you would. So one of the things that people know about
MIT, I think, is the commercial success that has come about through successful entrepreneurial
activity from MIT itself. Would you say that there is in addition, a
trend of entrepreneurs focusing more on world improvement projects at MIT, or maybe projects
that have a more clearly defined social impact? Is that something that you see on campus? Or maybe just something that people would
like to see out of MIT? – Yeah, I think. First, I guess, when I was admitted into Delta
V. First, it was exciting to meet a bunch of
people who I had never engaged with. If you know anything about architecture school,
oftentimes, you don’t really see anybody outside of the course. And so, going in to meet this new cool cohort
of people, it was incredible to see how many people actually had a problem that they wanted
to address rather than just like a solution that nobody wanted. And I think that that sort of reason to be
is like, very crucial to, I guess, convincing others that you have that reason is very crucial
in terms of getting support from the MIT, entrepreneurial ecosystem, which I guess means,
yes, I have noticed that a lot of people seem to be working on things that want to change
the world for the better. – I’ve definitely seen more of that. I’ll give you a good example. We had a student that came to us and said,
I got this idea for these low cost warm kind of sleeping bags. And we wanna make a bunch of them, and then
ship ’em off to help deal with the Syrian crisis. And so we said, well, what do you need? He said, I need a sewing machine. And that was all that this person needed. And so we made that available. And I can’t remember how many hundreds of
sleeping bags they made, but they did that. And I was talking to him one day and I said,
well, what was it that made y’all decide they want to do that? And they said, it was obvious, we just watched
the news and people needed to be warm, and we knew how to do it. And we could do it. And I see examples of that all the time. Nowadays of students wanting to do things
like that, especially students that went to spend time, for example, during the summers
overseas, and in third world countries, rural areas, they take the making skills they’ve
learned at MIT, go over there, get started on a project, they come back to MIT, and then
we see ’em in the maker spaces. And these community maker spaces are a great
place for this to happen. Because when they’re doing that, it’s not
just like they’re gonna do that on their own. Right? It’s usually a team or small community of
people that wanna jump on a problem like that. So the short answer is yes, I’ve seen more
of that. And I’ve been really pleased with the tangible
impact that we’ve seen from those sorts of activities. – So I hope this doesn’t come across as a
request for philanthropic support. But I think it’s important just to note, relative
to what each of you were saying, when people choose those kinds of activities, they often
come to the institute and ask for help. It is financial help, that is beyond what
otherwise would have been made available. They may need help for a summer activity that
doesn’t have any compensation associated with it. They may feel that to launch a social impact
kinds of venture, it’s very difficult with even the substantial level of financial support
that MIT offers. And so, we are challenged sometimes to take
that enthusiasm, and to make it come alive, or help it come alive, for the people that
want that to happen. Marty, when is this new Met makerspace going
to open? – Right now we’re in the early planning stages. And if the architects can keep to the schedule
and construction, we’re looking at late 2023 to early 2024. That’s my best knowledge right now. – You mentioned and people have not forgotten
that there will be alumni access to the space? – Oh, yeah. – Good. Did they just send a letter to your home address
or to your email? Or how does that access work right now? – Well, I’m happy to report you don’t have
to wait. There was a generous gift that came through
the class of 1960. And we used those funds to build the prototypes
of a couple of different facilities, that where we learn how we need to run this new
Met makerspace. So these are sort of like the early versions
where we’re trying out the ways that we’re gonna do programming and training et cetera. And those spaces right now are open to alumni,
if they wanna be a part of that community. Now when the Met makerspace comes online,
it’ll be as simple as hopping online, saying I’m an alumni, I wanna come use this space,
help me find the time to come do our orientation and training. And that’s just it. Easy peasy. No friction whatsoever. – Marty, last question. – All right. – So how much does the new Met makerspace
cost to build? – A lot. Oh, boy. In order for this space to be independent
and be able to do its job, right? Not to succumb to the business of everyday
life, et cetera. It needs to have its own financial support. There’s a lot we have to do with equipment,
a lot we have to do with just supporting the students that are gonna volunteer to run it. I forgot to mention that. The students that run our student run maker
spaces, they all volunteer to run those spaces for their fellow students, right? And so we gotta find ways to help them. Long story short, we have to endow that space. And that endowment is not a small endowment. We’re talking about 20 to $30 million. To make sure that we can endow the staff that
are gonna run it, continual upgraded equipment, et cetera. And so yeah, it’s expensive. But I’ll tell you this, if you hop on Google,
and you Google what all of our competitors are doing, they’re spending way more money
than that. So I’m saving everybody lots of money. – I know everyone appreciates that. Thank you. So that’s all the time that we have for this
conversation. I hope you enjoyed it. I thank you for really great questions. I hope you’ll stick around, enjoying good
conversation with friends. There is dessert both in the back of the room
and outside in the foyer, where you were earlier and beverages. Please continue to enjoy the evening. And please, continue to care about MIT. Thank you.

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