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Ela Ben-Ur

Ela Ben-Ur

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Design


BS (1997) and MS (1999), Mechanical Engineering, MIT

Select Courses Taught

Engineering for Humanity
User Oriented Collaborative Design
You-Oriented Collaborative Design

Areas Of Interest

Connections between different practices of design, innovation, change and growth. Leveraging these connections in simple tools that can are powerful across contexts.


Ela Ben-Ur has worked and co-experimented deeply with organizations and educators interested in design thinking since 2012. The focus of her present experimentation is Innovators' Compass: 5 questions that move us forward, distilled from many different practices, which have been used from preschools to global conferences and rural communities.

Ela worked 13 prior years at renowned innovation firm IDEO. Her design practice and leadership at IDEO spanned diverse industries, geographies and sectors. She went on to co-found IDEO’s Leadership Studio for developing project leaders, coach teams and facilitate for clients.

Ela has taught courses from product design to life design at Olin since 2007. She has offered workshops through MIT (her alma mater), Sloan, Babson, Dartmouth and Harvard, and at venues from SXSW EDU to the National Science Teachers’ Association, AIGA, International Development Design Summit, and US Conference on AIDS.

Ela earned BS (1997) and MS (1999) in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. As a research assistant in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Haptics Group, she developed a force-feedback laparoscopic surgery simulator that been patented and displayed at the MIT Museum.

Her daughters are her inspiration.

Select Publications

Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career (The 99U Book Series)
Essay “Keeping a Diary to Catalyze Creativity,” September, 2013
Chapter “Developing portable, powerful Design Thinking: Innovators’ Compass” in Stanford REDLab (Research in Education and Design)’s upcoming book Taking Design Thinking to School, November, 2016
Guest blog post Work Through Any Problem With The Innovators’ Compass for, April, 2016
Personal Website