Julie Dorsey of Mental Canvas Honored as One of Three Women of Innovation® at Yale

New Haven, Conn.: Julie Dorsey, professor of computer science at Yale, and founder of the startup Mental Canvas, was among three Yale professors selected as finalists for Women of Innovation® awards for the 10th annual Women of Innovation® Awards Program by the Connecticut Technology Council. The program recognizes women across Connecticut – those in the workforce and students – who are innovators, role models and leaders in the fields of science, technology engineering and math.

julie dorsey

Other Yale colleagues who are finalists are Michelle Addington, Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture and Paula Kavathas, professor of Laboratory Medicine, Associate Chair for Research, Director of the Science Education Outreach Program and Chair of the Women’s Faculty Forum at Yale.

Dorsey has worked with the Yale Office of Cooperative Research and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute to commercialize her innovative technology Mental Canvas for building 3D scenes from 2D drawings. A startup built around the patented Yale technology was part of the 2012 YEI Summer Fellowship and received the People’s Choice Award at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s 2012 Demo Day.

Mental Canvas has perfected photorealistic image synthesis, material and texture models, illustration techniques and interactive visualization of complex scenes. Dorsey’s software enables designers to build 3D models from sketches and photographs—a particularly useful tool for artists and architects. The system allows the designer to begin with 2D drawings and to position these drawings in 3D space “as one would tack up paper sketches on a bulletin board,” gradually fusing a series of possibly geometrically inconsistent sketches into a set of 3D strokes. The advantage of Dorsey’s program over existing modelling programs is that it allows for truly flexible, creative reimagining in the early design stages, or as she writes: “iterative refinement throughout the development of an ideas without imposing geometric precision before the idea is ready for it.”

Mental Canvas received a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant, an NSF Small Business Innovation Research grant and the startup has recently secured $1.5 million in financing.

CONTACT: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Yale Office of Cooperative Research & Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, brita.belli@yale.edu; (203)436-4933