Dina El-Zanfaly is a designer, computational design researcher, architect and educator whose research investigates and introduces computational tools, theories, and practices to better understand, describe, and enrich the processes of making and learning in creative practices of design across fields. She is a doctoral candidate in the Design and Computation group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, where she also earned her Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) in Design and Computation while being a Fulbright scholar. She is the co-founder of the Computational Making Group at MIT and the co-founder and co-director of Fab Lab Egypt, the first community maker space in northern Africa and the Arab world.
FLE provides both virtual and physical making environments for young Egyptians, fostering creativity and innovation. It supports local hardware startups, and collaborates with different organizations internationally. Today, the Fab lab network has grown to more than twenty Fabrication labs and makerspaces across Egypt.
She has just recently won the bid to host Fab15 in Egypt, the fifteenth international conference for almost one thousand researchers, makers, designers. She also oversees the annual Cairo Makerfaire, one of the biggest show and tell events in Egypt bringing ten thousand people in one day. Moreover, she worked on integrating fabrication labs in STEM schools in Egypt under the USAID, and she helped in integrating fab labs in the STEM curriculum. She founded and structured a board for the MIT student Egyptian association in 2012, which established MIT-Egypt research seed fund, an exchange research program between MIT and other entities in Egypt. The program was expanded by MIT later to be MIT-Arab World.
Her projects have won national prizes, and was funded by several research grants. Before joining MIT, she worked professionally as an architect on several prize-winning urban planning and architectural projects. Her most recent publications include a paper in Design Studies Journal, and two chapters in the book Unconventional Computing. Dina has also worked as a research assistant at Archnet at MIT, an international platform for architecture, conservation and urban planning.
She worked on documenting and analyzing architecture in Egypt in the period between the 1940s and 1950s. She has also been an invited critic at MIT, the Rhode Island School of Design, The American University in Cairo, and Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. Her multidisciplinary research approach reflects on the workshops and courses she teaches globally in communities and at several academic institutions including MIT, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Istanbul Technical University Alexandria University.