Trust Center Promotes Paul Cheek to New Role as Executive Director

Entrepreneur in Residence and Lecturer will help lead MIT’s entrepreneurship center in its efforts to educate students to have a global impact

May 9, 2022 (Cambridge, MA) — The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship announced today that Entrepreneur in Residence Paul Cheek has been named as its new Executive Director. Cheek moves into the position left vacant when Trish Cotter departed MIT last year.

“The Trust Center and MIT’s entrepreneurship ecosystem are incredibly special to me,” said Cheek. “Our students are at the core of everything we do and the impact we can have on their careers and journeys is very rewarding. I’m excited to have the opportunity to advance the field of innovation-driven entrepreneurship both here at MIT as well as externally around the world.”

Cheek joined the Trust Center as its first ever “Hacker in Residence” in 2018 and developed the Orbit platform as a way to digitally connect MIT’s entrepreneurship community. This online tool, garnering thousands of MIT student visitors every month, was especially critical to the center’s ability to serves its mission of educating MIT students during the year-plus of remote learning during the pandemic. He has been a lecturer since 2020 and took the lead this past semester in teaching MIT’s core first principles of entrepreneurship course (15.390 “New Enterprises”) and, after identifying a gap in the curriculum, launched a brand new course (15.388 “Venture Creation Tactics”).

“I am beyond pleased, even ecstatic to have Paul as the center’s new Executive Director,” said Bill Aulet, Trust Center Managing Director and Ethernet Inventors Professor of the Practice at MIT Sloan. “He so richly deserves this role for all that he has done. Paul’s work during the challenges of the past two years has been exemplary, always keeping his cool, his sense of humor, and his focus on the team and the students. I know he will hit the job running on day one and help the Trust Center achieve far beyond the goals we have set for ourselves in making this the best place for a student to learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

Paul is a serial tech entrepreneur, educator, and software engineer. He is the co-founder and CTO of Oceanworks, a for-profit company aiming to end plastic pollution that sources recyclable plastics from the world’s oceans, for which he was recognized by the Forbes “30 Under 30” list. Prior to that, Paul co-founded Work Today, a venture-backed digital staffing and recruiting company that helped day laborers find jobs every morning to achieve financial stability.

In addition to his work with Orbit and his lead role teaching, for which he regularly receives the highest student reviews possible, Paul spends time coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs in a variety of programs, including MIT delta v, MIT Fuse, and MIT Sandbox, and helping execute events such as the MIT COVID-19 Global Hackathon. His cross-campus outreach efforts have resulted in this year’s MIT Solar project with MIT EHS, resulting in the school’s first ever student Civil Rights Historical Tour. Paul is also the point person for the launch of a new entrepreneurship certificate program within the School of Engineering’s AeroAstro program, one that is being used as a model for a similar effort with MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department.