Dan Dorsch is a second-year PhD candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the mechanical engineering program at MIT. The 26 year-old inventor from Apple Valley, Minn. has grown up with a passion for figuring out how everything works. He built remote control airplanes with his dad and took apart his first car as a teenager, and now Dan has turned this passion into a career and focus for his education.
A trip to Guatemala during his junior year where he worked on the development of the Leveraged Freedom Chair, a developing world wheelchair now produced in India, inspired in him an appreciation of the invention process. Dan came back to the U.S. with an expanded outlook on how his work as an inventor could add value to the world.
Dan’s school projects have included a number of inventions, including an underwater biomimetic burrowing device (RoboClam), which can be used to anchor autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), as well as a novel AUV recharging system that was developed in partnership with the MIT Lincoln Lab and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Over the past three years, Dan has spearheaded an effort to establish MakerWorks, a student-run makerspace in mechanical engineering at MIT that has served more than 500 students since its opening in May 2015. One of Dan’s proudest achievements has been helping to create a space where students are able to invent freely, work collaboratively and learn from one another.