Education | Eastman Innovation Lab



Our continued support of academics in industrial design and architectural disciplines allows students to gain a material understanding that goes deeper than the confines of the textbook.

Building the future

The EIL is dedicated to the support of design education, providing resources to help teach theory and application in the design of products, services, and environments, focusing on industrial design, but encompassing various disciplines. Through collaborations with the educational community, the EIL promotes the learning of how to apply practical methods, prior knowledge, and natural talent to solve new problems. We believe that education in materials and processes provides students a foundation that will be the basis of their future success.

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”

Albert Einstein

Beyond the classroom

Who is Mr. Smith? For eight years, President Maclaurin only had two clues to the identity of MIT’s most significant donor: he did not live in Massachusetts and he had never attended MIT. Donations from Mr. Smith were essential in constructing MIT’s Cambridge campus. In 1920, Eastman allowed MIT to reveal his identity. As a quirky homage to one of higher education’s most important benefactors, MIT students rub the nose of Eastman's plaque for good luck. 

Eastman valued education and donated the majority of his fortune, more than $100 million, to educational and arts institutions. In addition to MIT, he provided the impetus to raise RIT's first endowment and helped to fund two historically black colleges, the Hampton Institute and the Tuskegee Institute.

“The progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education”

George Eastman

Putting children first

Eastman runs Putting Children First, a business and education partnership with local K-12 Tennessee schools. Believing that all citizens are stakeholders in their communities, Eastman contributes to K-12 schools, with a focus on STEM programming, to strengthen their education system, which strengthens their local businesses, and in turn the entire community. What started with four schools has expanded to 104! Programming includes GEM4STEM, a mentorship program that pairs Eastman employees with students to increase interest in STEM topics.

Locked-in to design

In the past, the design challenge “Lock-In” at the University of Illinois in Chicago has been product focused. This time, material came first. Eastman Tritan™ copolyester was at the centerpiece and UIC students were tasked with designing an advantageous concept for geriatric in-home self-care. In a 16-hour period, five teams competed against each other to create the best concept. They were judged on design approach, use of materials, quality of final product, and presentation. The winning concept, Aqua Lyf, an all-in-one medication organizer/drinking vessel, won for its purpose and usefulness of design in the real world.

“These challenges create new excitement with new opportunity, The experience [Eastman] provided was robust and fulfilling for all the students who participated.”

Stephen Melamed Clinical Professor of industrial design

SHiFT design camp

SHiFT is a rustic experience for today's community of makers and connectors. Held in Tuscumbia, Alabama, SHiFT challenges attendees to disconnect and escape their routines. Each day focuses on a different aspect of the design process. Morning lectures and workshops feature artists, designers, and industry leaders speaking to a variety of topics while group challenges tackle topics like community, reflection, and craft. The EIL celebrates SHiFT for providing a "classroom" with over 3,000 acres to explore, inspiring new ideas to come from the natural world we too often overlook.

“Shift was created for explorers, builders, and leaders in order to reignite the playful nature of creativity and foster instinctive design thinking practices.”

Owen Foster, Co-Founder of SHiFT