Case Studies

Advancing Interdisciplinary Education at the Undergraduate Level: The Advanced Fibers & Fabrics Workshop (MITANDFIT)

March 11, 2021

Want to Learn More? Visit: www.mitandfit.info 

Students are siloed in their education between designers and engineers, and in the advanced textile industry, it’s imperative for these disciplines to be interwoven and understand how to work together. Further a lack of awareness exists among college students related to available careers in smart fibers and fabrics. In response to this, AFFOA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) have created a 2- week interdisciplinary workshop where students from MIT & FIT come together to work on a real world prototyping challenge provided by an industry partner that combines skills from the designers and engineers, and mutual knowledge imparted by the workshop to create an innovative textile prototype. The workshop recently completed its third iteration and the team is creating a scaling model to effectively transfer the workshop to other universities. 

The broader impact of the MITx FIT program involves bringing students together across disciplines and providing them with an opportunity to interact and learn a common language. Further, the program enhances participant awareness related to future innovations for advanced fibers and fabrics and how participants can contribute to solving problems for industry.

Program Highlights:

  • The program facilitates the intersection of design and engineering for products made of advanced functional fibers, yarns and textiles. 
  • Students spend two weeks learning together and prototyping together across disciplines 
  • Lessons include interactive lectures, guided discovery sessions, tours/visit sites and an Industry Design Challenge provided by an industry partner, such as New Balance.

Looking Forward:

  • The 2021 & 2022 workshops are entirely virtual due to COVID 19, opening doors to additional best practices for the workshop
  • AFFOA is working with partners MIT/FIT to create a handbook outlining program details for potential replication at other universities. The handbook will be released in the coming month. The handbook provides a best practice model for interdisciplinary education at the undergraduate level as part of a textile career pathway