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Meet The Team

Program Director

Idea Shop Lab Manager

Academic Director

Managing Director

Professor of Practice

Executive Director

Engagement Manager


Maryam Saleh, PhD is currently executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at Illinois Tech. She is passionate about moving ideas into the market, where it can have impact and improve lives. She has held leadership roles at several startups including Machinify, a venture-backed startup that's applying AI to bend the cost curve in healthcare and Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, a medical device company that used brain implants and machine learning to restore movement in quadriplegic individuals. She has also helped launch and accelerate startups through her founding roles at Northwestern’s Center for Device Development and MATTER, a business development hub for over 200 cutting-edge health tech startups. In 2016, Maryam was recognized as a Crain’s 40 under 40.

Maryam currently lives in Chicago with her husband Dr. Jason MacLean and children Rhys and Tiah. Born in London, raised in Canada, Maryam earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from Brown University and, a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience from University of Chicago.

Akshar Patel (CE '13) is managing director at the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (Kaplan Institute). His work includes leadership training, university enrollment, fundraising and non-profit development. He is an adjunct faculty member of the Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) prorgam at Illinois Tech. His class focuses on human-centered design for developing countries. Patel has worked on projects in Nicaragua to provide housing and education to communities in need. He is currently on the board of FNE International, an organization that partners with communities in developing nations to identify opportunities to advance housing, health and education. Before joining Kaplan Institute, Patel held roles in Career Services and Institutional Advancement at Illinois Tech and worked in enrollment at Champlain College in Burlington, VT.

Akshar holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master of Education from the University of Vermont.