Beth Altringer

MS/MBA; Engineering Sciences Program Core Faculty

“Launching a technology venture is a design process: its leaders need to design a product, a business model, and an organization. This requires training in both design methods and business fundamentals.”

Dr. Altringer is Founder-Director of the Desirability Lab and faculty at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Graduate School of Design. In 2016, she was recognized by The Harvard Crimson as one of the university’s top 15 professors. The Desirability Lab uses design and behavioral science research to help innovators embed desirable experiences into the products and services they create.

Altringer runs a longitudinal research program to improve design and engineering curricula. During her PhD work at Cambridge University (studying success and failure on IDEO and Fortune 100 company innovation projects) and postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, she developed an integrated approach to teaching creative, technical, interpersonal, and project management decision-making skills that can reduce the risk of avoidable project failure. Altringer has since created three ongoing SEAS courses: Integrated Design:Advanced course on seamless, data-driven product design, Design Survivor: Experiential Lessons in Design for Desirability, and The Innovators’ Practice: Finding, Leading and Building Good Ideas With Others. She has also designed and taught immersive courses in Human Centered Algorithm Design (inspired by her ai-kitchen initiative), wearable tech, sustainable design, cultural entrepreneurship, sensory design, and digital nomadism.

Altringer launched Chef League in 2019, a flavor literacy game on iOS that teaches players how to think like expert chefs and sommeliers. Previously, she was on the founding team and senior leadership of Piaggio Fast Forward through the 2017 launch of their Gita and Kilo robots. In 2014, she created the Sensory Composition project, experimenting with flavor storytelling in context. She has since been building the Flavor Genome Project, working with blind tasting experts, sommeliers, and chefs to create a large database of food and beverage flavors and their attributes as well as experimental software with new ways of mapping and navigating flavor (like Spotify does for music). Altringer holds a PhD in behavioral science and design (University of Cambridge) and masters in architecture (University of Cape Town). She has worked with diverse organizations like Kering, Gucci Group, Puma, Swarovski, SABMiller, Diageo, IDEO, FIFA, the Drone Racing League, OneLeap, Stanford, MIT, and the Berkman Klein Center.

For more information, visit Beth’s full bio here.