MIT AI Innovator Award Celebrates Top Achievers in Four Categories: Better World, Rising Star, Trailblazer, and Lifetime Achievement at Ceremony in San Francisco

2018 AI Innovator Awards presented to Aileen Lee, Guy Satat, Dina Katabi, Zia Chishti, and Mark Gorenberg.

Dina Katabi -  recipient of the 2018 AI Innovator "Trailblazer" Award

The MIT Club of Northern California (MITCNC) announced the recipients of the 2018 AI Innovator Awards. The inaugural awards honored innovative and passionate individuals who exemplify MIT’s mission to serve the nation and the world.

The inaugural awards were a huge success, with an impressive crop of over 250 nominations and 43 finalists in four categories. The awards were presented to a fantastic group of five winners in four categories.

“The AI Innovator Awards were created to celebrate the achievements of individuals who are committed to creating a meaningful change in today’s world,” said MITCNC Board Member and President-elect, Shuja Keen. “The world needs their inspiration that we are making steady progress toward building a better world. I want to congratulate all of this year’s award winners and give my deepest thanks for all that they do.”

2018 AI Influencer – Trailblazer Award
The 2018 AI Innovator “Trailblazer” Award recognizes individuals for their inspirational breakthroughs, transformative advances, and founding new fields of study.

The 2018 AI Trailblazer Award recognizes the contributions of Dina Katabi (MIT SM ’98, PhD ’03) an MIT professor and principal investigator at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL). Dina is recognized as one of the most innovative researchers in the field of networking and applies methods from communication theory, signal processing, and machine learning to solve problems in wireless networking. Dina is cited for co-authoring several highly influential papers on overcoming interference in wireless networks to improve the flow of data traffic. Dina invented a device that seems to be lifted out of the pages of science fiction, she and her team pioneered the use of wireless signals in applications that can sense humans behind walls, determine their movements and even surmise their emotional states. These trailblazing human-sensing technologies hold out promise for use in several applications of daily life.

Dina Katabi is the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She received a PhD and MS in Computer Science from MIT, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Damascus University, Syria. Dina is the author or co-author of over 100 scholarly publications covering a wide range of topics in networks and data communications. Her papers have been cited more than 20,000 times by researchers. She has been recognized with several honors including a MacArthur Fellowship, ACM prize in Computing, Grace Murray Hopper Award, National Science Foundation Career Award. Dina is an ACM Fellow and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

2018 AI Influencer – Better World Award
The 2018 AI Innovator “Better World” Award honors an individual who demonstrates a real commitment to building a diverse and inclusive tech community and making a Better World.  

The 2018 AI Influencer Better World Award recognizes the contributions of Aileen Lee (MIT SB ’92).  Aileen is the founder of Cowboy Ventures, a fund that backs seed-stage technology startups. Cowboy Ventures seeks to back exceptional founders who are building technology products that “re-imagine” work and personal life in large and growing markets, what they call “Life 2.0”. Prior to Cowboy, Aileen was a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers for over a decade, and also founding CEO of RMG Networks, a leading venture-backed digital out-of-home media network. Aileen has experience working hands-on with a range of consumer, enterprise, media, and greentech companies, including Bloom Energy, Blue Nile (NILE), Good Technology (acquired by MOT), One Kings Lane, Plum District, Rent the Runway, Shopkick, Tellme (acquired by MSFT), and Trendyol. During that time she was also founding CEO of RMG Networks (RMGN), the leading digital out-of-home media company, backed by KPCB. Aileen has also held operating roles at Gap Inc., The North Face, and Odwalla and started her career at Morgan Stanley. Aileen has degrees from MIT, Harvard Business School and Millburn High School.

Aileen has been a strong advocate for increasing diversity amongst founders and investors.  Aileen mobilized a group of senior female investors and launched with the mission of connecting members of the tech startup ecosystem - including entrepreneurs, limited partners and allies – and combining initiatives with outcomes to engage more women and minorities in the founding and funding of technology-driven companies. Over the next five years, is on a mission to increase the percentage of the financing to female founders from 15% to 25%.

2018 AI Influencer – Rising Star Award
The 2018 AI Innovator “Rising Star” Award recognizes individuals under 35 who are already building solutions to create a new world bringing groundbreaking technologies and innovations to market.

The 2018 AI Influencer Rising Star Award recognizes the contributions of Guy Satat (MIT SM '15) is a PhD student and research assistant in the Camera Culture Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. Guy is passionate about developing imaging technologies that solve great challenges in society, science, and health. More specifically, he is developing imaging solutions for seeing through obstructions using time-resolved imaging and compressive imaging. His inventions include All Photon Imaging – a system that captures clear images through dense fog for augmented driving for a wide range of vehicles including self-driving cars, drones, airplanes, and helicopters -

2018 AI Influencer – Lifetime Achievement Award
The 2018 AI Innovator “Lifetime Achievement” Award recognizes individuals who’ve already achieved several lifetimes’ worth of breakthroughs, founding or funding innovations and launching new industries. They serve as inspiration for generations to follow.

The two winners of the 2018 AI Influencer Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the contributions of Mark P. Gorenberg (MIT SB ‘76) and Zia Chishti.

Mark Gorenberg (MIT SB '76) is the Founder of Zetta Venture Partners, a seed and early-stage fund, focused on the intelligent enterprise. Over the last 26 years of venture capital experience and Mark has funded and served on the boards of numerous successful start-ups. Prior to his career in venture capital, Mark served as a software executive, entrepreneur, and a member of the first SparcStation team at Sun Microsystems. Mark is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Corporation, and a board member of the MIT Investment Committee (MITIMCo). In 2011, Mark was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a 21-person advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers.  Mark graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received Masters Degrees from the University of Minnesota and Stanford University.

Zia Chishti is a named inventor on over 150 issued patents and an additional 25 pending patents.  Zia has founded three “unicorn” companies, valued at $1 billion or more.  Zia is the Founder and CEO of Afiniti, an AI company which predicts enterprise customer and employee behavior and then assigns customer/employee pairings accordingly. Zia built it from its origins on his dining room table in 2006 when he wrote the first draft of code to today where Afiniti has 1000 employees, operates in twenty countries, and has a private market valuation of $1.6 billion. Prior to founding Afiniti, Zia was the founding Chairman and CEO of Align Technologies (NASDAQ: ALGN), a medical device (“Invisalign”) technology company that he started from his dorm room at Stanford and led from startup to over a $1 billion in valuation when he listed the company on NASDAQ.  Today Align’s market cap is over $19 billion. Zia began his career in the mergers and acquisitions department of Morgan Stanley and as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co. Zia received BA in Economics and Computer Science from Columbia and an MBA from Stanford University.

About MIT Club of Northern California

MIT Club of Northern California (MITCNC) is the regional alumni club of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Northern California. The club is run entirely by volunteer MIT alumni. Along with its partners, the club organizes approximately 200 events every year, serving approximately 15,000 alumni in the Northern California area. MITCNC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to further the well-being of local MIT alumni by connecting them with each other and by fostering a continuing relationship with MIT. A large portion of MITCNC’s annual budget goes towards sponsoring needs-based students from the Bay Area to attend MIT. To date, MITCNC has helped approximately 200 students with financial assistance through its scholarship fund to attend MIT.

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Source: MIT Club of Northern California


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MIT Club of Northern California (MITCNC) is the regional alumni club of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Northern California. Information on the MIT Club of Northern California is available at or email