MIT Receives $1 Million to Spur Student Invention

The Lemelson Foundation has announced a $1 million gift to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to establish a fund that supports student invention in its Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The Lemelson-Vest Fund for Student Invention will support hands-on experiences for undergraduate and graduate students in MIT's various fabrication facilities, including the glass lab, foundry, and forge, where students learn topics such as heat transfer and solidification processing while working directly with a range of materials. The fund honors the memory of Charles M. Vest — MIT president from 1990 to 2004 — for his contributions to the inventive capabilities of generations of engineers. Vest, who died in 2013, worked with Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson to create the Lemelson-MIT Program, which celebrates outstanding inventors and works to motivate young people to pursue a creative life and career through invention.

"In creating this new fund to honor the memory of Chuck Vest, Dorothy Lemelson and the Lemelson Foundation demonstrate their deep understanding of MIT’s hands-on culture," said MIT president L. Rafael Reif. "Our students learn the art of invention by doing it — testing, prototyping, optimizing, and refining their way to serious innovation. By enabling more of our students to engage in this indispensable form of learning-by-doing, this vital new support will help us educate aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs who are ready to meet the market and serve the world. We could not be more grateful."