PDI PDI leverages the power of a combined undergraduate degree in design innovation and society with a minor or major in another field typically mechanical engineering management computer science or communication. The core of PDI is an interdisciplinary studio sequence that teaches students to bridge the disciplines to create new products services and media in the context of social needs and environmental concerns. The studios develop students skills in using computers and digital modeling techniques as well as in drawing visualizing communicating and working togetherall that is necessary to put their creativity to work as leaders of design and innovation. Students have explored ideas from medical applications for the iPad to affordable home water filtration systems for undeveloped countries. Repairing the World EBEN BAYER AND GAVIN MCINTYRE Ecovative Design the brainchild of Eben Bayer 07 and Gavin McIntyre 07 both dual majors in mechanical engineering and production design and innovation PDI has emerged as a legendary story of Rensselaer ingenuity and initiative. Founded in 2007. Ecovative is a pioneer in the design development and testing of new high-performance materials grown from 100 percent agricultural waste and biodegradable mycelium. Based on Green Island near Troy Ecovative now employs upward of 65 people and many of them are Rensselaer graduates. Seeking an environmentally responsible alternative to traditional insulation Bayer found his inspiration in his roots on his family farm in Vermont. Remembering the way mycelium or mushroom roots bonded together he began experimenting with that material. Bayer and McIntyre teamed up entered Rensselaers Change the World Challenge and emerged as prize-winners. Spurred by their success they moved their experiments to Rensselaers business incubator and started to attract grantors investors and customers. By 2009 Ecovative was ready to launch its first commercial product mushroom packaging. The trade publication Packaging World which featured Ecovative on its cover in July 2011 suggested that the company is poised to be a game changer in various industries and Bayer and McIntyre have been named to the 2014 Forbes 30 Under 30 list of top young innovators in the category of Manufacturing and Industry.