NYSCI is seeking deep engagements with local thinkers, creators, makers, educators, artists, technicians, architects, and engineers working in and around the design community for the second year of its Designers-in-Residence (DiR) Program.

We are looking for collaborators who want to engage with museum culture, explore our resources, and work with the NYSCI Explainers to infuse innovation and current design principles, thinking and insight into NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder. NYSCI is interested in individuals and groups who want to test ideas with the public, develop new work or new components of existing projects, and introduce different perspectives into the way we present information and engage with our multiple publics. During their residency, each DiR will participate in public programs and be paired with a small group of two or three Explainers.


Who are the Explainers?

High school and college students participating in our Science Career Ladder program by working on the museum floor, while receiving mentoring, professional development and career preparation opportunities. Explainers are the face of NYSCI. They explain our exhibits, perform demonstrations, support educational workshops, and act as role models to students in NYSCI’s out-of-school camps and clubs. Easily recognized by their trademark red aprons, Explainers bring a love of learning and communicating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to younger audiences. They hold a deep understanding of our visitors (community and school groups, as well as young people and their families), including who they are, and how they best learn. The Explainers are a highly diverse group of young people with a wide range of life experiences and cultural backgrounds.


Meet the 2017 – 2018 DiRs

Attend a NYSCI After Dark Field Trip at a local bar: Hear first-hand about Designer-in-Residence projects and the experience of being at NYSCI:

  • Thursday, May 24 Game + VR Night with DiRs, Killer Snails and Jaehyun Kim
  • Tuesday, June 19 Environmental remediation and platforms with DiRs, Jan Mun and Brooke Singer


DiR 2018-2019 Program Specifics

Residents need to commit to working an average of 5 hours/week with their Explainer partners and comply with some basic expectations for participating in a youth development context. NYSCI has a budget for prototyping, producing workshops and events, and/or build-outs/installations for DiR projects. See specific amounts for each residency below. The timing of residencies will be determined based on preferences listed in the application, programming opportunities and available space at the museum.

  • Three-Month Residency (NYSCI will select three DiRs for this category): A good opportunity for working out a new component of a larger project that could be prototyped and/or showcased at the end of the residency and includes: A $4000 Designer Stipend; and $1500 budget for materials, prototyping, workshops, build-outs/installations.
  • Six-Month Residency (NYSCI will select one DiR for this category): A good opportunity for developing a new, large-scale project that will be prototyped on the museum floor at various points during the residency. $7500 Designer Stipend; and $3000 budget for materials, prototyping, workshops, build-outs/installations.

Projects do not have to be completed or have final outcomes for the showcase at the end of a residency. However, we are looking for public programming opportunities through each residency, which can take the form of prototyping events, hands-on activities, installations/exhibits for NYSCI visitors, talks, workshops and skill-shares.


Being a DiR at NYSCI

Ways to engage with Explainers and the museum:
Projects vary. Below are two examples of what DiRs can bring to NYSCI, and we recognize and are open to many more:

  • Co-develop hands-on activities and/or exhibits for NYSCI’s audience. For this track, prospective DiRs must have an interest in co-developing activities, installations and/or programming with Explainers. These could take many forms: events, workshops, lectures, demos, exhibits and/or prototypes for NYSCI’s existing young audience or our developing older audience.
  • Further develop an existing project for the purpose of engaging a different audience or a younger audience. For this track, prospective DiRs must have a project that requires development with/for a new/different audience that can be explored at NYSCI via feedback from Explainers and prototyping with NYSCI visitors.

Working with Explainers:
Collaborating with Explainers is the cornerstone of this residency. Each DiR will be paired with a small group of two or three Explainers for the duration of the residency. DiRs will be required to have set meetings with their Explainer partners. Due to the age of Explainers and nature of their involvement in the Science Career Ladder program, these meetings will need to be scheduled, and DiRs will receive support from NYSCI staff as they build relationships with the Explainers. We expect DiRs to meet with Explainers on a weekly basis for five hours (this will be an average for longer residencies). These meetings can take the form of career talks, skill-shares/workshops (which we may open up to larger groups), project feedback sessions, building or installation sessions, or prototyping events on the museum floor. NYSCI visitors are the other, unofficial partner of the DiR, as this residency is an opportunity to build projects with and receive feedback from our diverse museum visitors.

Ideal DiRs:

  • Need to have experience and/or interest in youth development and working with younger people (high school and college-aged) to share ideas and build projects.
  • Can support and continue the work of NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder to instill the following habits of mind in Explainers: diversity, personability, empathy, flexibility, curiosity, resourcefulness, ability to reflect, and empowerment to try new things.
  • Have an interest in investigating different forms of public engagement in a museum setting.
  • Are eager to experiment with different ways of considering design, exhibits, learning and information exchange.
  • Spanish speakers and fluency in other languages is a plus.

Selection of DiRs will factor in diversity in terms of gender, age, race, culture, and education/learning differences, as well as experience in the areas of design we are seeking a response to each year (see below for design areas of interest). We want to ensure that Explainers can see themselves in the DiRs and that DiRs are prepared to contribute to a community that values and supports young people.



The residency is a museum-wide collaboration and opportunity for exploring how NYSCI’s resources can be leveraged to expand our Explainers’ and audiences’ perspective of design in all its forms, hone or expand a project’s reach, or expand museum interactions. DiRs will have access to the following:

  • Spaces to work, to produce, to build: NYSCI will provide appropriate work and build spaces for projects, based on the interests/needs described in the application. This residency does not necessarily guarantee a dedicated studio space. We will work out what is needed for each project and find suitable accommodations.
  • Use of museum floor: for prototyping of different activities, engagements and installations (areas include but are not limited to: Design Lab, Connected Worlds, Rocket Park).
  • Partnership with Public Programs Department: to determine public programming options, based on the proposal provided in the application.
  • Access to NYSCI staff: for conversations and feedback about projects.
  • Access to Design Lab team: for help testing with visitors.
  • Access to NYSCI’s Maker Space and its team: for consultation and/or use of tools.
  • Access to NYSCI’s Exhibits team and shop for consultation and/or use of tools.


Design Areas of Interest

  • Interactive
  • Sound
  • Sustainability/Environmentalism (special interest in: urban gardening and soil science)
  • Simulation
  • Machine/tools
  • Lighting
  • Food: nutrition and/or mechanisms/systems


Timeline and Important Dates

  • Applications open: May 14 – August 17, 2018
  • Applications due by: 11:59 pm, August 17, 2018
  • Notification of Acceptance to Round 1/Interview Cycle: September 5, 2018
  • DiR Interviews at NYSCI: September 11 – 14, 2018
  • Notification of Acceptance: September 21, 2018,/li>
  • Project planning meetings at NYSCI: October – November, 2018 (TBD with DiRs and NYSCI staff)
  • Orientation with Explainer Partners: December 5 or 6, 2018
  • DiR cycle 2018 – 2019: January – July 2019
Apply here