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MIT Researcher, Professor to Talk About 4-D Printing and Self-Assembly at DCCCD STEM Summit on April 4

photo of Skylar Tibbits

Please note: This program is not open to the general public. However, members of the news media who are interested in talking to Skylar Tibbits of MIT about his groundbreaking work — which could affect our relationship with the homes we live in and infrastructures that support us — can contact Eddie Miranda with the DCCCD Foundation and Development Office to schedule an interview.

Contact: Eddie Miranda • 214-378-1541 •
Dr. Peggy Shadduck • 214-378-1553 •

For immediate release — March 26, 2014

Dallas, imagine this:

  • Living in a North Texas home that withstands the force of a tornado by adjusting its structure on its own as wind speed increases;
  • Having water pipes throughout your home that are attracted to each other so that they can prevent leaks and repair themselves when they are damaged; or
  • Receiving a major electrical appliance that is shipped to you in a small box and automatically assembles itself the moment it is plugged in.

For Skylar Tibbits, founder and director of the Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, these scenarios are plausible using the design of three-dimensional parts that can also adjust over time as conditions change. Cells and molecules in living organisms have used self-assembly and self-repair for billions of years, but now the idea is being applied to nonliving structures.

Tibbits will share this fascinating concept of 4-D printing with future scientists, researchers, teachers and engineers from the Dallas County Community College District’s STEM Institute on Friday, April 4. His presentation, titled “A 4-D Future,” will be held during the institute’s fourth-annual STEM Summit at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, located at 6911 Lemmon Ave. in Dallas.

The summit, including Tibbits’ keynote presentation at 7 p.m., is closed to the public. However, Tibbits will be available for media interviews. Please contact Eddie Miranda, director of marketing and communications for the DCCCD Foundation and Development Office, at (214) 378-1541 or, in advance for arrangements.

Celebrating its fifth year, the DCCCD STEM Institute provides scholarships, mentorship, educational and career experiences to high-achieving students in a variety of STEM fields at the colleges of DCCCD. STEM scholars apply for the program each semester and are selected based on academic achievement and their strong interest to work or teach in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The 120 scholars currently participating in the program are mentored throughout the academic year by STEM faculty fellows, highly credentialed professors from each of the seven colleges who also are chosen through a rigorous selection process. The program continues to thrive each year through the success of its past scholars. Of the 500-plus STEM scholars who have participated in the program since it was created in 2009, 88 percent have completed their degree, transferred to universities or continued their studies at the colleges of DCCCD.

“The DCCCD STEM Institute provides a transformative experience for some of the most motivated, hard-working students attending the colleges of DCCCD,” said Dr. Peggy Shadduck, district director of the STEM Institute. “More than 90 percent of our recent STEM scholars are successfully continuing their education and/or working as STEM professionals. These scholars are our future leaders in the Dallas area.”

Tibbits is one of the leading authorities on 4-D printing and self-assembly, a process in which disordered parts spontaneously form an organized pattern or structure on their own without external direction. While 3-D printing creates three-dimensional solid objects of any shape from a digital model, 4-D printing adds the fourth element to the mix: assembly through time without the need for added energy. The goal of Tibbits’ work is to create programmable materials that eventually would lead to efficient design solutions in the physical world.

“There are new possibilities for self-assembly, replication, repair in our physical structures, our buildings, machines,” Tibbits, a 2012 TED fellow, says during his presentation on “Imagine if our buildings, our bridges, machines, all of our bricks could actually compute … so there’s exciting potential for this.”

A trained architect, designer and computer scientist, Tibbits also teaches design studios in MIT’s department of architecture and co-teaches the seminar “How to Make (Almost) Anything” for MIT’s Media Lab. Before that, he worked for several design offices, including Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote Architecture, SKIII Space Variations and Point b Design. His work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum and the Beijing Biennale.

Tibbits has collaborated with influential scientists, designers, artists and architects over the years, including Neil Gershenfeld at MIT’s The Center for Bits and Atoms, Erik and Martin Demaine at MIT, Adam Bly at SEED Media Group and Marc Fornes of THEVERYMANY.

In 2007, he founded SJET, a multifaceted practice and research platform for experimental computation and design. SJEC crosses disciplines in architecture and design, fabrication, computer science and robotics.

For more information, contact Shadduck at 214-378-1553 or

Skylar Tibbits — Biographical Sketch (PDF - 123KB)
DCCCD STEM Institute Fact Sheet (PDF - 48KB)

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