About

My name is Julian Leland. I’m a research assistant in the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab, and also a SM candidate in the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department. I graduated from Swarthmore College in 2012 with a major in Engineering (mechanical concentration) and a minor in Public Policy.

I am fascinated by the concept of bringing tools to people – exploring new ways of designing and creating, while seeking to make those tools and techniques available to the widest possible audience. In my coursework and work in industry, I’ve explored this concept through precision engineering (especially for low-cost, accessible manufacturing systems), robotic manipulator design, and advanced manufacturing methods in general. My current research tackles this larger idea by focusing on the development of tools and techniques for architectural-scale digital fabrication, to reduce the cost, time and human impact of construction. In all of my work, I try to stay connected to the “hammers and nails” of the engineering design process; I am a capable machinist (I’m slowly putting together my own shop), woodworker, CAD drafter, and electrician.

Beyond gears and bearings, I’m also interested in the intersection of engineering and international development, from both an academic and activist perspective. I believe that engineers can (and should) make a difference in the world beyond the products they design and the systems they optimize – I try to accomplish this by working at the gap between engineering, policy, economics and needs at the base of the economic pyramid.

Finally, I have pursued design from a less engineering-centric perspective – designing primarily for aesthetics rather than efficiency. I’ve worked on projects ranging from theater and housing construction to furniture and jewelry design, and have gained experience with a skill set that most engineers are never exposed to.

This website hosts information about/documentation on the various projects I’ve pursued over the past few years in my primary areas of interest – engineering, development and design. All information on this site is presented as-is with no warranty/guarantee against manufacturer defect – use at your own risk.

My CV is available here, and my portfolio is available here.

If you want to get in touch: