Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship

Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship

The renovated center reopened to students this week.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Cafe area

Cafe area

The revamped center includes an area for grabbing a bite to eat, sipping on a coffee, and having impromptu chats. The garage door on the right opens up to a networking and events space.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Garage door

Garage door

The door can be raised to create a larger space for events.

Photo by Jeff Engel

New kitchen

New kitchen

The renovations included creating a larger kitchen. Entrepreneurial students have big appetites.

Photo by Jeff Engel

College student food pyramid

College student food pyramid

The kitchen must be stocked with a healthy supply of ramen noodles and other staple snacks for hungry students, who might pull all-nighters at the center.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Library for entrepreneurs

Library for entrepreneurs

This shelf is stocked with books on startups and entrepreneurship. It's adjacent to a wall of lockers that students can use.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Wall-to-wall ideas

Wall-to-wall ideas

The walls are coated with special paint that allows people to doodle on them or sketch out ideas and equations that can be erased later.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Hot desks

Hot desks

The center put in open desks, a la co-working spaces.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Bouncing ideas around

Bouncing ideas around

The Hive Maritime team prepares to pitch their startup at the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition that evening.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Phone booth

Phone booth

A student takes a call in a "phone booth."

Photo by Jeff Engel

Let's get comfy

Let's get comfy

When students want a break from a desk, they can relax in these quirky chairs placed in a small conference room.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Desk with a view

Desk with a view

More non-traditional chairs, plus a work station with a view of the street.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Conference room

Conference room

This is the biggest conference room in the center. (Don't write on the walls just yet---the "idea paint" needs to dry.)

Photo by Jeff Engel

Getting work done

Getting work done

The renovation and expansion project took about 10 months, and it didn't take long for students to take advantage of the revamped center.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Staff desks

Staff desks

The Trust Center staff members used to work in stodgy cubicles. Their new desks fit with the more open style of today's tech company environment.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Head honcho

Head honcho

Bill Aulet, managing director of the Trust Center, holds a meeting with colleagues in his office.

Photo by Jeff Engel

Step into the newly renovated Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship on MIT’s campus, and you might think you’ve mistakenly wandered into the office of a startup or co-working space. That’s the point.

“A lot of our students want to start companies out of school,” says Tommy Long, the center’s chief of staff. “We wanted to give them a little bit of a taste of what a startup environment is like.”

The 26-year-old center aims to be a resource and connector for MIT students across all disciplines and grade levels who are aiming to become effective entrepreneurs. One of its main offerings is its first-floor space at 1 Amherst St., building E40, on the east side of MIT’s campus in Cambridge, MA. Besides housing the center’s staff, the office provides workspace available 24/7 to students working on entrepreneurial projects and startups.

But the old space was often cramped. So, when the tenants in the office next door relocated, the Trust Center knocked down the wall to expand from about 4,500 square feet to around 7,200 square feet, says Trust Center program coordinator Renee Lawlor.

“We wanted to expand for quite some time,” Lawlor says.

The renovation and expansion project began last July and was completed this week, minus a few finishing touches—including setting up an expanded makerspace with more 3D printers, a laser cutter, and other features, Lawlor says.

I toured the revamped center this week (see slideshow above). It looks and feels like other startup spaces I’ve visited around town, such as the Cambridge Innovation Center. The Trust Center has open desks, conference rooms, tiny “phone booth” rooms for making calls, unconventional furniture, walls that can be written on, a small event space, and a café area that has a cabinet filled with ramen noodles and granola bars—staple food groups for college students. (There are no ping-pong tables or other cliché startup office frills though.)

The initiative is notable because it shows how organizations at MIT—one of higher education’s most prolific generators of new technology, spinout companies, and company builders—are investing in resources for entrepreneurial-minded students. The renovation also shows how today’s tech startup culture is permeating college campuses.

To get ideas for the redesign, Trust Center officials visited accelerators and co-working spaces, including Workbar and MassChallenge, and the offices of startups and big tech companies, including Sonos and HubSpot, Lawlor says. The center went for an “industrial feel,” she adds.

“This is much more than an academic center,” Lawlor says. “We wanted the space to feel fun and keep the energy we had in the smaller space.”

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com