Ali Shtarbanov is an interdisciplinary, Bulgarian-American platform architect and interaction designer whose work spans fields from electrical and mechanical engineering, to robotics and haptic feedback, to art and design. Ali has developed multimodal interactive interfaces that bridge the gap between the worlds of bits, atoms, and people; has built development platforms that enable researchers, engineers, and artists to prototype rapidly and express their creative potential in entirely new ways; and has designed various prototypes that make daily living simpler and more enjoyable, especially for people with disabilities.

Ali's works have been presented at a number of international conferences and venues - CHI (‘18, ’19, ’21, '22), SIGGRAPH’20, IROS’20, UIST’21 – and have been featured in design exhibitions at both MIT and in Como, Italy. Ali has won numerous design, research, and engineering awards and recognitions. Some of those include, The 2021 Hackaday Grand Prize Award, Gold Medal at ACM CHI'21 Student Research Competition, Gold & Silver International Design Awards (iDA) in the Robotics and Education categories, Best Project Award at IROS'20 Workshop on Modeling and Control of Soft Robotics, Silver A'Design Award, and many others. Ali has also served as a reviewer and judge for various conferences and contests including Hacking Arts, IEEE HAVE, and MIT Technology Review "35 Innovators Under 35, Europe".

Currently, Ali is a Ph.D. student researcher at MIT Media Lab. He holds an M.S. Degree in Human-Computer Interaction from MIT Media Lab, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and a B.A. in Physics – both Summa Cum Laude – from Lehigh University


To democratize and enable rapid prototyping and innovation opportunities in emerging fields for researchers, designers, artists, and makers from all technical and socioeconomic backgrounds, by developing and deploying enabling platforms that are highly versatile, general purpose, and simple to use by anyone.


I've had the privilege to mentor the following students as my undergraduate research assistants

  • Tuan Nguen (2016)

  • Matthew Marquez (2016-2017)

  • Qiuyue Liu (2017)

  • Dovran Charyyev (2017)

  • Catherine Yang (2017-2018)

  • Valerie Chen (2018-2019)

  • Alisha Fong (2019)

  • Francesco Bonde (2019-2020)

  • Layal Barakat (2020)

  • Hyeonji (Hailey) Oh (2021-2022)

  • Corrina Berger (2022)