A Hybrid Term Takes Shape

Published in MIT News on February 13, 2018 by Elizabeth Durant, Office of the Vice Chancellor

Devised and led by two MIT seniors, the x-terms pilot meshes academics with internships in the greater Boston area.

Ali Abdalla’s path at MIT has been an unconventional one. Abdalla, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, spent an entire year away from MIT doing two full-time internships. During the most recent one, from February through August, he worked with a design team at Tesla on high-voltage car components.

To beef up his knowledge of electronics and stay connected to campus while in California, he simultaneously took 6.S064, an online version of 6.002 (Circuits and Electronics). “It actually helped,” says Abdalla. “I ended up doing one project in my internship that was strongly related to parts of the class, so I learned a lot.”

Abdalla’s DIY academic experience epitomizes the vision for x-terms, a spring semester pilot that is the brainchild of seniors Drew Bent and Gabriel Ginorio. The pair wants to find a way to make Abdalla’s hybrid learning approach easier to pursue and available to any undergraduate at MIT.

The x-terms concept is straightforward enough: Students work 20 to 25 hours per week doing a paid internship at a Boston-area company, while taking one or two classes on campus. Although many MIT students intern during the summer months, x-terms can be weeks or even months longer, so students can dig into more substantive projects...

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