The Inside Scoop on DUE: February 2016
The Experimental Study Group (ESG) sponsors seminars each spring on topics generally not covered in the mainstream MIT curriculum. These seminars are open to all MIT undergraduates and are intended to be hands-on and experiential in nature. We are currently offering seven 6-unit seminars including Kitchen Chemistry; The Chemistry of Sports; Current Events Seminar; Fourier Frontier; Law & Technology Seminar; Twist, Warp, Stitch and Glue: Textile Art(s) and the Making of Culture; and Programmable Physics: E&M with Python.
One of our Kitchen Chemistry instructors, Markrete Krikorian, is taking the seminar in an exciting direction this year. In addition to the standard class, we are piloting a new symposium series open to the MIT community. We have invited renowned food experts to speak with us about a variety of food science topics:
Kenji Lopez-Alt: Searing and Roasting
March 11, Room 6-120
Kenji is an MIT alumnus and the New York Times best-selling author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking through Science.
Gus Rancatore: Crystallization and Ice Cream
April 22, Room 6-120
Gus is the founder of Toscanini’s Ice Cream.
Ronn Friedlander: Fermentation
May 6, Hulsizer Room, Ashdown House
Ronn is an MIT PhD candidate and a founder of Aeronaut Brewing Co. A tasting will follow at the Thirsty Ear Pub.
All symposia will include a technical discussion of an aspect of food chemistry by Markrete, a demonstration of the scientific principals in action by the speaker, audience Q&A, and a reception afterwards. They will be held on Friday afternoons from 3-5 PM (see locations above) and are free and open to members of the MIT community. Embrace your inner foodie and join us to learn about the science behind the food you eat!
If you would like to attend the March 11 symposium on the science behind searing and roasting with Kenji Lopez-Alt, please register in advance. More information about ESG’s seminars and the symposium series is available on the Experimental Study Group website.
How can we leverage the brain-computer interface to create promising assistive technologies for people with movement and speech disabilities? That question was at the heart of IAP Course 16.682—better known as Momentum—this past January. While the theme of the course varies from year to year, the core concept is to prepare freshmen and sophomores to use the fundamentals of engineering design to tackle a real-world problem. This year, the class was offered through a partnership between the Office of Minority Education and Joel Voldman, Professor of Electrical Engineering and deputy director at the NSF Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.
The Momentum course kicks off with one week of lectures and three weeks of design and prototyping a solution, culminating in a final competition and poster presentations. In addition to technical skills, Momentum students develop teamwork, resume building, communication, presentation, and interviewing skills to prepare them for their engineering careers. And instead of designing in a vacuum, students spend time debating the social, ethical, and economical impacts of potential solutions.
The challenge this year was to design assistive technology solutions for individuals who have limited motor movement. Momentum students were tasked to control a robotic arm using an Arduino microcontroller that converted electromyography signals from able body parts. The robotic arm had to perform a common task that was defined as picking up a cup filled with marbles, translocating it by at least 20 inches, and setting it down. For an added challenge, students were encouraged to complete the task as creatively as possible. Such creative additions included the use of pressure, infrared or ultrasound sensors, and cameras.
Momentum concluded with an eventful day packed with competitions, presentations, and networking with industry representatives from Apple, Google, Intel, and NASA, among others. After an enthusiastic welcome from Office of Minority Education Dean DiOnetta Jones Crayton, students and attendees gathered in Lobby 10 for the main competition and poster presentations. The winner of this year’s Momentum was the team “Cerebrum et Brachium” composed of Yevhenii Diomidov ’18, Beatriz Gonzalez ’18, Safa Jabri ’19, Kevin Rodriguez ’19, and Anthony Rolland ’19.
Over IAP, a handful of MIT’s Air Force ROTC cadets were given the opportunity to get incentive rides in the QF-4 aircraft at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Incentive rides, intended to motivate cadets to become pilots, are not unusual. However, the QF-4s are; only a few of these aircraft are left in the US Air Force's fleet. Originally Vietnam era fighter jets, the QF-4s have been outfitted with new avionics so they can be flown remotely to serve as live targets for training missions. The cadets sat in on manned-testing missions that pushed the aircraft's flight envelope, pulling up to 5.5 Gs, reaching speeds of Mach 1.2, and participating in two-ship basic fighting maneuvers including high-aspect rejoins. Prior to the flights, the students had to pass a flight physical and a basic parachuting/wilderness survival “crash” course. After the incentive flights, the cadets enjoyed sledding in the sand dunes at White Sands National Park.
Editor’s Note: As of February 2, the Assistive Technology Information Center (ATIC) officially became a part of UAAP. Formerly under the auspices of IS&T, ATIC (pronounced like “attic") provides assistive technology services as well as consultations on web accessibility and usability. For DUE staff who are not familiar with the center, ATIC's Kathy Cahill describes the services they offer and how they collaborate with other MIT offices and programs. Please take a few minutes to learn more about the center and extend a warm welcome to the ATIC staff!
ATIC was started in 1992 by an IS&T Help Desk consultant who was using assistive technology herself and saw an unmet need for MIT students and staff with disabilities. Since that time, ATIC has grown in size, scope, and the number of customers served. ATIC serves about 100 students on an ongoing basis per academic year. In addition, we perform about 300 demonstrations of various assistive technologies, including keyboards and pointing devices that can be loaned out to members of the MIT community. ATIC is staffed by Kathy Cahill and Kate Lindberg, along with two MIT student workers, seniors Kristen Eller and Kapaya Katongo.
ATIC has always worked very closely with Student Disabilities Services in coordinating assistive technology services for students, and making sure that they have needed tools and course materials in accessible formats. In addition, ATIC works with HR Disabilities Services to ensure that MIT faculty and staff have any assistive technologies they need to do their jobs. ATIC also maintains close ties with Environmental Health and Safety and MIT Medical, two departments that often refer customers to us.
A crucial part of the work that ATIC does relates to web accessibility and usability. Students, staff, and visitors to MIT websites should be able to access and read all the information on the web, whether they are using an assistive technology or not. This is where our Accessibility and Usability consultants (Rich Caloggero, Katherine Wahl and Chris LaRoche) add their expertise to MIT departments, labs, and centers, by providing free accessibility and usability consulting regarding any new or existing websites, along with recommendations on how to make them more accessible and usable.
We hope that if you haven’t visited ATIC already, you’ll stop by and see what we have to offer. We are just down the hall from DUE HQ in 7-143 and can be reached at 253-7808 or email@example.com.
“Feeling Raced,” an audio story by Shante Stowell ’15, was picked up recently by 51%, a weekly 30-minute show on women's issues that is produced at WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. The show is broadcast by roughly 100 stations throughout the US, including WNYC in New York. Stowell, who was an MIT senior when she produced the piece, first learned to create audio stories in the Terrascope freshman learning community.
The piece was a final project for 21L.504 (Stay Human: Race and Identity in American Literature). “Associate Professor Sandy Alexandre gave us the option to go beyond a traditional paper format for our final projects,” Stowell says. “I immediately thought of doing a radio piece, because it's a format I’ve loved since taking Terrascope Radio in my freshman year. We’d been discussing the question, ‘When have your actions been influenced by your race?’ and I thought that Caucasians would probably have a much harder time answering it—probably influenced by my own inability to think of an answer. I decided I’d ask people the question, record their answers, and turn what I got into some kind of radio program,” she adds.
The show with Shante’s piece aired on WAMC radio on February 11 and 17. The entire show is available on the 51% website.
Stowell’s piece also won a national contest sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). The contest, part of ASEE’s Year of Action on Diversity, solicited videos and essays from engineering students sharing a story related to any type of diversity. Stowell won first place with what the contest organizers described as “a unique audio piece that encourages thought and self-reflection.”
“My study wasn’t terribly scientific,” she adds. “I grabbed friends who had some free time, especially ones I thought would have things to say. I decided I wanted to keep things simpler by not including various international friends in the interviews—though I did talk to several of them off-record. Ultimately, I hope the piece stands for itself, and helps people think about and start conversations about how they experience their own race.”
This story appeared in an earlier form on MIT News.
Edgerton Center co-sponsors unique IAP class on underwater conservation photography.
I first interviewed professional underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen, Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST) Visiting Artist at MIT, and Allan Adams, Associate Professor in the Physics Department, three days before they were due to depart for Patagonia for a conservation photography project. In October, it was just the two of them.
In January, it was Ellenbogen, Adams, and 16 MIT students. After months of intense planning and preparation, Ellenbogen and Adams’s co-taught 8.S10 (Underwater Conservation Photography), an IAP class sponsored by the Edgerton Center and the Department of Physics. The students spent three weeks learning on campus and then traveled to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Glover’s Reef Research Station to carry out their own conservation photography projects.
The IAP course was an intensive crash-course in underwater conservation photography covering everything from underwater optics to hacking simple ROVs to building custom imaging devices to explore the ecology of coral reef ecosystems and the behavior of their inhabitants. The topics were covered in lectures, in lab work, on local field trips, and in team design and construction projects. The final week was spent putting these skills and devices to use at the WCS's Glover's Reef Research Station (GRRS) off the coast of Belize. Students from the University of Belize were invited to join by Skype in Cambridge and in person on Glover's Reef...
Over IAP 2016, the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming hosted a series of events for first-year students. The first of these, Departmental Exploration (DEX), was a weeklong series designed to help freshmen explore different academic opportunities as they begin to think about declaring a major this spring. Each day focused on a different theme, and featured panels of students and events hosted by various departments. This year’s themes included technological engineering, chemistry/chemical engineering, biology/biological engineering, economics and management, design, politics and policy, and math, physics, and computer science. The week was a success, and we offer our heartfelt thanks to Shauna Peterson, staff associate in UAAP, for coordinating the events.
In addition to major exploration programs, first-year students had an opportunity to attend events that expanded upon the topics covered at Orientation. These included an alcohol screening day, a diversity program, and a workshop with MIT Medical’s Violence Prevention & Response staff. We are grateful to our campus partners for assisting us with these programs. Finally, the UAAP hosted information sessions about applying for our two student leadership roles—orientation leader and associate advisor. Over 25 students attended the sessions, so we are well on our way to building a great applicant pool!
Editor's Note: Hat's off to the Edgerton Center, which has played a significant role in the success of the Hyperloop Team by providing advising, work and machining space, and administrative support.
Design tops more than 100 entries at an international high-speed transportation competition inspired by Elon Musk and sponsored by SpaceX.
A team from MIT took top honors Saturday at a competition at Texas A&M University to design the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation concept dreamed up by Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Beating out a field of more than 100 other teams from around the world, the group of MIT graduate students won the best overall design award for a vehicle, or pod, that will ride inside the Hyperloop, a system of tubes connecting major cities — or what Musk calls “a fifth mode of transportation.” They will now move on to build a small-scale prototype of their design and test it this summer on a track being built next to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“MIT has been involved in so many technological breakthroughs in the past century,” says team captain Philippe Kirschen, a master’s student in aeronautics and astronautics. “It just makes sense we would help advance what might be the future of transportation.”
In 2013, Musk declared war on conventional inter-city travel. Last summer, he threw down the gauntlet, announcing a year-long competition to design vehicles for his Hyperloop scheme, a transit system ideally suited for major city pairs separated by 900 miles or less (think San Francisco and Los Angeles). In Hyperloop, people and freight are propelled in pods through tubes maintained at a near-vacuum. In the absence of air or surface friction, the pods travel at close to the speed of sound (around 750 miles per hour), using low-energy propulsion systems...
Dean of MIT Admissions joins peers in recommending increased consideration of prospective students’ concern for others in college admissions.
During the past year, Dean of MIT Admissions Stu Schmill has been part of a working group hosted by the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The group, including college deans, guidance counselors, and other key stakeholders, has considered how to promote ethical character and achieve greater fairness and integrity in the college admissions process.
On Wednesday, the outcome of the group's work was released at an event at the New York Public Library in Manhattan. The resulting report, "Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions," was endorsed by 80 college admissions professionals and other stakeholders.
The group began discussions with the premise that colleges, and specifically admissions processes, send messages about what colleges — and our society at large — value. These messages, in turn, ultimately end up influencing the behavior of millions of students.
The findings of the report advance a widely shared vision that college admissions can and should align their messages to convey the idea that concern for others and the common good should not take a back seat to personal achievement and intellectual engagement...
A grand time was had by all at the DUE Winter Celebration this year! Many thanks to Dean Freeman and Lisa Stagnone for hosting a lovely gathering.
Infinite Mile Program
Employee recognition is an important component of growing a culture of development in DUE. DUE’s Infinite Mile Award Program is an opportunity to recognize individual employees and teams that have shown excellence; to foster an environment of commitment to shared success; and to showcase employee achievement. Every DUE employee has an opportunity to contribute to the recognition of their peers through the annual nomination and selection process.
The nomination period is now open and the deadline for nominations is Friday, March 18.
As is previous years, the award criteria fall into six categories, for both individual and team nominations: Communication & Collaboration, Community, Customer Service, Diversity & Inclusion, Innovation & Creativity, and Leadership.
To access details of the nomination process, sample nominations, award categories and criteria, and the nomination form, visit the Infinite Mile Award pages.
This year’s Infinite Mile award recipients will be announced at an award ceremony and celebration scheduled for Monday, June 6. The ceremony begins at 3:00 p.m. and will be followed by a reception with light refreshments until 5:00 p.m. Please hold the date!
If you have any questions about the Infinite Mile Program, please contact Kristin McCoy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-258-5448.
All-MIT Diversity Forum: Reflect, Understand, Act
Through remarks, a panel discussion, a keynote speaker, and various workshops, the 2016 All-MIT Diversity Forum will offer students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to learn from each other and discuss complex issues. Ultimately, the hope is that participants will reflect, understand, and act.
Registration will begin in March. Please see the 2016 All-MIT DIversity Forum website for more details about the day's events.
MIT2016: Celebrating a Century in Cambridge
Fun fact: In March 1912, faced with cramped quarters in Boston and a growing enrollment, MIT purchased 50 acres of barren riverfront land in Cambridge to build a new campus. The price? $775,000. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
From February 29 to June 4, the MIT campus will be abuzz with events commemorating the 100-year anniversary of MIT's move from Boston to Cambridge, including a river-crossing competition, symposia, performances, open houses, community service opportunities, and much more. The celebration kicks off with the opening reception of a new exhibit at the MIT Museum, Imagining New Technology, on February 29. See the MIT2016 website for all the details!
DUE welcomed a number of new employees between February 5 and April 1, 2016. Congratulations to all!
Experimental Study Group
Global Education and Career Development
|Dwynette Smith||Program Assistant|
|Mark Pollak||Technical Instructor|
|Joshua Davis||Technical Instructor|
|Richard Geer||Technical Instructor|