Curriculum Vitae

A proven leader of diverse research teams with experience in visual & physical design, computer & cognitive science, mechanical engineering, and business. Has developed cutting edge technologies in digital fabrication, web platforms for mass customization, and robotic manufacturing and assembly programming. Known to be a fun collaborator and visionary thinker, with a get-it-done attitude.

Recently awarded a PhD from MIT on how robotics can enhance design thinking through exploratory material interaction. Looking to apply depth and breadth of experience to a cutting edge company to revolutionize design, robotics and manufacturing related industries.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture Cambridge, MA

2011- 2016 - Doctor of Philosophy - Architecture: Design and Computation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture Cambridge, MA

2008 -2010 - Master of Science in Architecture Studies - Design and Computation Group

University of Minnesota, College of Design Minneapolis, MN

1999-2004 - Bachelor of Science in Architecture


Interactive Design Cognition

2015-2016 - PhD Dissertation Research Project – Behaviors of experienced designers, novice designers, and non-designers (17 total) were videotaped while playing with special 3D printed blocks to complete various open- and closed-ended tasks. Their interactions are formalized according to various types of physical engagements with the blocks and the world. Experienced designers were observed to behave uniquely suggesting the possibility of transferring knowledge through robotic design aids.

Physical Design Computing, Blocks World Redux, and Future Makers

2014-2015 - Project Lead – Through these 3 undergraduate research projects I have developed strategies to program a robotic arm with real-time motion control in dynamic environments. Design-supporting human-robotic interaction operations such mirroring, rotating, arraying, and flipping are being developed.

Taming the Wild Digitally Fabricated Singapore Horses MIT and SUTD

2014 - Project Lead - A pilot study in collaboration with computer science students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design to develop multi-axis digital-to-physical translation algorithms for automatically generating planar construction prototypes.

Mass Customization Study MIT Media Lab

2011-2012 - Project Co-Lead – A quantitative behavior experiment to study sustainability of mass customized products. Using embedded RFID tags and wireless receivers we collected daily data on dress shirt wearing patterns of 25 Boston area professionals over four months. The study framed sustainability in terms of usage rates comparing custom, standard, and mass-customized shirts.  

CityHome and Home Genome Projects MIT Media Lab

2010-2012 - Project Designer and Team Lead - The CityHome was designed and partially prototyped to be a transformable apartment accommodating many different needs throughout the day. The Home Genome was an algorithm development project of an online feature-based recommendation engine for matching novice online apartment seeker’s needs with design solutions. Prototypes were tested in Cambridge area apartments.

innovation Teams: Shelter in a Box w/ MIT Sloan School of Management

2010 - Project Creator and Team Lead - First time the MIT Architecture Dept. has been involved with MIT Sloan course 15.371 Innovation Teams. My team and I transformed a building system technology into a marketable opportunity for customized disaster relief structures.

Physical Design Co. Start-up venture

2009-2010 - Co-Founder and CEO - In partnership with an MIT classmate, a Harvard Business School student, and a MIT Professor, I launched a start-up for mass customized easy to assemble backyard structures. Over the course of 1.5 years we developed a business model, financial plan, distributed manufacturing methods, and worked with 3 groups of VC investors.

Beta Fabricator Network MIT Design Computation Group

2009 - Master’s Thesis – I developed a 25-person online network of CNC fabricators across the world who participated in file sharing, fabrication, and product assembly experiments.

Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans MoMA, NYC

2007-2008 - Project Designer and Manager - Under direction of Prof Larry Sass (PI) we designed, fabricated, and assembled one of five full scale houses exhibited on the MoMA's 2008 open lot exhibition in Midtown: Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling.


5 Year Full Research Assistant Tuition and Stipend Award ($350k)

Awarded by the SUTD-MIT International Design Center 2011-2016

PhD Research Workshop Participant SIGraDi Conference, Chile, 2013

Work selected for oral presentation by conference organizing committee

1.5 Year Full Research Assistant Tuition and Stipend Award ($90k)

Awarded by the MIT Department of Architecture 2009-2010

Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Award 2009

Digitally fabricated doghouse and kid’s playhouse

Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Award 2008

Digitally fabricated backyard shed


Smithwick, D., and Sass, L. (2014) Embodied Design Cognition: Action-based Formalizations in Architectural Design, International Journal of Architectural Computing, Issue 4, Vol 12, pp 399-417.

Sass, L. and Smithwick, D. (2013) Mass Customized Structures for Relief: Physical Production with Digital Fabrication” in Piller and Piroozfar (eds) Mass Customization and Personalization in Architecture and Construction, Routledge: New York. 


Smithwick, D., Kirsh, D., and Sass, L. (2016). In Review, “Designerly Pick and Place: Coding material interaction in model making activity,” in Gero (ed) Proceedings from Design Computing and Cognition ‘16, Chicago.

Kirsh, D., and Smithwick, D. (2015). “Creativity and Phenomenal Stimulation,” Paper selected for presentation at the EuroAsianPacific Joint Conference on Cognitive Science, Torino, Italy.

Smithwick, D., and Kirsh, D. (2015). “Let’s Get Physical: Thinking with Things in Architectural Design.” Paper selected for poster presentation at 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Pasadena, CA.

Smithwick, D. (2015) “Interactive Design Cognition and Computation,” dissertation research poster selected for presentation at the SUTD-MIT International Design Centre 2015 Design Summit, Singapore.

Smithwick, D. and Sass, L. (2014). “Physical Design Cognition: Embodied Intelligence for Taming the Digitally Fabricated Singapore Horses,” in Gero (ed) Proceedings from Design Computing and Cognition ‘14, London, England.

Smithwick, D. and Sass, L. (2013). “Physical Design Cognition: A Non-symbolic Formalization for Performing Design Knowledge,” Proceedings from the Iberoamerican Society of Digital Graphics, Valparaiso, Chile, November 20-22.

Smithwick, D. and Sass, L. (2012). “Designing in HiFi: Digital Fabrication for Physical Computation.” Proceedings from the Iberoamerican Society of Digital Graphics, Fortaleza, Brazil, November 13-16, pg 622-624.

Smithwick, D. and Chin, R. (2011) “Smart Customization: The New Driver of Sustainability: A Case Study in Custom vs. Standard Men’s Dress Shirts,” Poster presented at MCPC 2011, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference. San Francisco, CA.

Smithwick, D. and Larson, K. (2010). “Home Genome Project: Customer Co-Design, A Design Search and Recommendation Engine.” Poster Presented at the Smart Customization Seminar, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA.

Chin, R. and Smithwick, D. (2009) “Environmental Impacts of Utilizing Mass Customization: Energy and Material Use of Mass Customization vs. Mass Production.” Presented at MCPC 2009, Proceedings of the 5th International Conference. Helsinki, Finland. 

PhD Dissertation

Smithwick, Daniel (2016). “Physical Design Cognition: an analytical study of exploratory model making to inform creative robotic interaction." Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Smithwick, Daniel (2009). “Architectural Design 2.0: An Online Platform for the Mass Customization of Architectural Structures.” S.M. Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Upcoming: MIT Course 4.511 Advanced Projects in Digital Fabrication

2015 Co-Instructor – Graduate level robotics milling and pick and place design processes

MIT Course 2.00b Toy Product Design Profs D Wallace and M Yang

2015 Team Leader – guiding MechE students through creative design project

 MIT Workshop 4.553 How to Train your Robot

2015 Instructor – Robotic programming for pick and place assembly processes                  

MIT Course 4.500 Geometric Modeling Prof L Sass

2014 Module Instructor – Robotic programming for multi-axis milling

MIT Course MAS.552/4.557 Designing Resilient Cities Prof K Larson

2012 Teaching Assistant – Group leader for CityHome design and development

 MIT Course MAS.552/4.557 MIT Living Labs Prof K Larson

2011 Teaching Assistant - Group leader for CityHome design and development 

MIT Workshop 4.185 Architectural Design CityHome Prof K Larson

2011 Teaching Assistant

MIT Course 4.501 Architecture Computation and Construction Prof L Sass

2008 Teaching Assistant


MIT Undergraduate Research Supervisor, 2015

Jaguar Kristeller, Junior in Mechanical Engineering

Dana Gretton, Junior in Computer Science

Steven Homberg, Freshman in Mathematics and Computer Science

MIT 6.100 Student Independent Project Coordinator, 2014

Raghavasimhan Sankaranarayana, Computer Science (visiting student from India)

MIT Undergraduate Research Supervisor, 2014

Rachel Rotteveel, Junior in Computer Science

Kalin Malouf, Sophomore in Architecture

MIT Undergraduate Research Supervisor, 2011

Patrick Gichuiri, Junior in Computer Science

Dhruv Parthasarathy, Junior in Mathematics

Kevin Hsiue, Junior in Computer Science

Helen Driftmier, Sophomore in Media Studies (Wellesley student)

MIT Undergraduate Research Supervisor, 2010

JT White, Junior in Architecture (Wentworth student)

Heidi Ashley, Junior in Architecture 


MIT-SUTD International Design Center

2015 Invited speaker – Let’s Get Physical: Thinking with things in Architectural design

MIT Smart Customization Seminar at the Media Lab

2012 Panel leader and seminar co-organizer – Digital Design and Fabrication Track

AARP Foundation Ideation Session on Housing – Washington DC

2011 Panel participant - Invited by VP of Housing to help integrate user design principles for future housing of aging populations

MIT Media Lab Sponsor Week: Workshops on Mass Customization

2011 Co-organizer – Leader of brainstorming sessions with 3 sponsor groups

MIT Smart Customization Seminar at the Media Lab

2010 Invited speaker – digital fabrication technologies for mass customized housing


Digital Design and Fabrtication Group – MIT International Design Center, Cambridge, MA

2012-Present Research Assistant

Changing Places Group – MIT Media Lab Cambridge, MA

2011-2012 Research Staff

Physical Design Co. Cambridge, MA   

2009-2010 Co-Founder and CEO

Loom Studio Minneapolis, MN

2008 Designer and fabricator

Howeler + Yoon Architects Boston, MA

2006-2007 Designer and fabricator

Pompeii Architecture and Design NYC

2004-2005 Designer

Lightworks Minnneapolis, MN

2002-2004 Fabricator

Charles Levin Architects Minneapolis, MN

2000 Intern     


MIT Graduate Student Council

2015 Vice President of GSC summer term

MIT Committee on Graduate Programs


MIT Spring Career Fair

2014 Student volunteer

MIT A.T.Hack

2014 Supervisor for Assistive Technologies Undergraduate Student Hackathon


“The Idea Factory,” by Gregory Malone, The Atlantic Magazine, Oct 2011

“Lab Report: Research of the Changing Places Group,” by Sherin Wing, Metropolis Magainze Oct 2011

“Friction Fit” in Ana Miljacki (ed.) Uncertain Futures: Two Years of Student Research at the MIT Department of Architecture,” SA+P Press, 2009

“Physical Design,” by Daniel Smithwick, ShopBot Web Columns, June 2009

“Dan and the Puzzle Houses,” by Chris Connors, Make Magazine, May 2009

“Interview: The Next Generation of Architectural Design: Daniel Smithwick from Physical Design Co.” by Frank Piller, Mass Customization and Open Innovation News, March 2009

“Next: A Snap-On Addition?” Journal of Light Construction, January 2009

Bergdoll, B., Christensen, P. and Broadhurst, R., Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling, The Museum of Modern Art Press, NYC, 2008

“The Beast: Intermodal Transit Station,” in Alexander D’Hooghe (ed.) Certain Agendas in Architecture: One Year of Student Research at MIT’s Dept of Architecture, SA+P Press, 2007


Management Effective team leadership

Hiring Strong communication with diverse backgrounds 

Report writing and Technical Documentation

CAD Rhino & AutoCAD

CAM KUKA Robotics, Multi-axis CNC Milling, general shop tools & safety

Programming Grasshopper, Processing, Python, Scratch

Graphic Design Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign

Animation/ Rendering/Movie 3D Max, Flash, Premier

Web Development JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Flex, Joomla