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Chris Peterson

May 19 2016

PSA: I’ll be at Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Academics & Research, Process & Statistics

I blog a lot of retrospective trip reports (see, e.g., ISEF 2016, IOI 2015, Maker Faire (NYC) 2014), but I rarely provide advance notice before I arrive somewhere to give a talk. Someone emailed to suggest this might be more useful, so I'm going to try to do it when I can. 

So: right now, I'm en route BOS -> SFO, on my way to Maker Faire Bay Area 2016, where I'm giving a talk about maker portfolios in our admissions process at 1:30PM on Saturday at the center stage in zone 7. It will be a similar talk those I've given at Maker Faires in the past, but new to the Bay Area, and different from the one Dawn gave back in 2013. 

In addition to my talk, the MIT Alumni Association will be operating booth 55124 in zone 2, offering hands-on activities in coordination with Project Manus, from:  

  • Friday: 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
We'll have CNC milling and 3D printing demonstration going throughout the event along with projects... read the post »

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May 17 2016

The Tech profiled Lydia about resilience @ MIT

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Life & Culture

Four years ago, in October 2012, Lydia published a blog post titled "Meltdown" about the difficult time she was having at MIT. It was a beautiful, sad, and beautifully sad post, and it immediately resonated with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, not only across campus, but among alumni, and even folks who aren't affiliated with MIT but who have had a hard time. I know it did for me; I read it as a first-semester graduate student, during my own difficult time, and I could immediately understand her story, even as the details were very different from my own. 

The purpose of the blogs is, and always has been, to give MIT students a place to tell their true stories, and, by doing so, to give prospective students access to the interior lives of current students; a sense of what it feels like to go to MIT. The blogs are not supposed to be a soapbox from which students propose or advance various changes, reforms, critiques, and so on. There's The Tech for that. 

But sometimes, the... read the post »

Discussion

May 13 2016

Trip Report: ISEF 2016

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Freshman Applicants

I'm blogging this from a Starbucks in Phoenix. I'm sweating, partially because it's hot even inside with the AC nominally blasting, and partially because I just ate so much BBQ I'm worried I might actually pass out. 

More on that later. 

I'm in Phoenix for the 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest math, science, and engineering research fair for high school students. Every year, millions of high school students across the world enter their local science fairs. The best students will often proceed to ISEF-affiliated regional fairs, and then state and/or national fairs. Ultimately, the top ~1,700 students will qualify to attend ISEF as finalists and present their work to expert judges to qualify for more than $4,000,000 in scholarships, Special Awards (which are awarded by partner organizations), and Grand Awards (which are awarded by the ISEF judges). 

Discussion

May 5 2016

Denied by MIT, 5 Years Later

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Process & Statistics, Life & Culture

I've gotten a number of email responses to my blog post about the different paths our lives can take. One of them was from a student whom we denied five years ago. He and I had emailed a bit when he was denied, but I hadn't heard from him since Pi Day 2011; he revived the old thread to tell me what he had been doing in the time since. 

I thought it was a really nice note, and maybe an encouraging one, so I asked him if I could blog it, and he said I could. I've reproduced it in its entirety and unedited (except for where I removed personally identifiable information at his request) below. 

Hi Chris,

I wonder if you remember me. I had written to you long ago on Pi Day 2011, when I had received an admission decision from MIT, and I hadn't made it. I am just replying on this old email thread just so you may go through our old discussion.

[...]I couldn't agree more that over time, a person makes choices which define him/her, and ultimately most of us usually like the... read the post »

Discussion

Apr 29 2016

Although of course you end up becoming yourself

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, Miscellaneous, Life & Culture

Not long ago, I met with an admitted MIT student, whom I will call Sam, because that is not his name. As we sat on a bench in Lobby 7, Sam told me that he had a problem. On Pi Day, he had been admitted to MIT, which he considered his dream school. A few weeks later, however, he was unexpectedly admitted to another program, which was also a dream, albeit a different one. Sam told me that he was having trouble choosing what to do. He wanted me to help him decide.

Over the last few weeks I've met, emailed, Facebooked, Slacked, or spoken on the phone with many members of the Class of 2020 who are all struggling with the same basic decision as Sam: whether to enroll at MIT or to go somewhere / do something else instead. Typically, these students ascribe this ambiguity to a set of questions they see as unanswered and/or conflicts they see as unsettled. Will they like 'the culture' more at MIT or at X? Would they rather be closer to or further from home? How should they evaluate... read the post »

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