Introducing the Innovation Mentors

The MIT innovation ecosystem spans a wide range of departments, centers, programs, and student groups that are spread across campus and beyond. With over 85 resources available to the MIT community, many find navigating this vast landscape on their own overwhelming, as not all possible pathways are equally viable or helpful for any given student or group.

Innovation Mentors are student advisors that can help student innovators, entrepreneurs, and makers at MIT match their interests and needs with the resources that are available to them. Scholars of innovation, entrepreneurship, and making, the mentors are qualified undergraduate and graduate students who possess deep knowledge of the MIT innovation ecosystem and are up to date on the latest resources, events, and opportunities on campus in this domain.

The MIT Innovation Initiative, a cross-school effort to strengthen and promote innovation and entrepreneurship at MIT, is introducing the pilot program for the spring 2018 semester as a way of increasing access and easing the entry points into the landscape for students who aspire to move their ideas from conception to impact. Through a call for applications, the Innovation Initiative received 55 applicants. After a round of interviews, four students representing mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, mathematics, and business were selected to be mentors.

The program builds on the existing networks maintained by the Innovation Initiative. The mentors are deployed across campus to engage with the community during office hours, at events, and by working directly with resource centers and core classes to help students through the various stages of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Innovation Mentors are available to all students at MIT, regardless of their major, year, or program.

Innovation Mentors

Alli Davanzo is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in product development. Alli is a volleyball enthusiast and plays on the varsity team at MIT. Last semester, she took course 2.009 (Product Development) and learned about what’s available for innovators and entrepreneurs at MIT.  She is excited to help others access those resources.

Marla Odell is a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS). Marla is the president of MIT Women in EECS and a researcher in the Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. She is also a rower on MIT’s varsity crew team and a leader in Amphibious Achievement.

Michael Amoako is a junior double-majoring in mathematics with computer science and in business management. Michael was one of the organizers of the BetterMIT Hackathon and is one of the founders of the Minority Business Association, whose primary purpose is to provide mentorship and opportunities for students of underrepresented groups in business fields.

Sumit Khetan is an MBA candidate at MIT Sloan School of Management. Sumit graduated from New York University in 2013 with a bachelor’s in economics as a Lew Rudin Scholar. Upon graduating, he worked with early-stage Israeli startups in New York City to help them fit their technology and products in the U.S. market. He is on the organizing committee of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition as a mentorship lead and is vice president of community for the Technology Club.

For more information on scheduling an appointment with an Innovation Mentor, visit the MIT Innovation Initiative website or email