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Michael C. '16

Oct 17 2014

How do you know when you’ve chosen the right major?

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Academics & Research

Sometimes I get so engaged by a project that I forget to eat.

Yesterday, I woke up at 7:35am.  Starving, I got a sandwich to-go at the Student Center and then trudged off to the basement of Building 35. Along with my friend Sally M. '16, I spent the next few hours CNC machining two rectangular aluminum blanks into a pair of finely detailed molds and then finetuning injection molding parameters to create some beautiful clear yoyo bodies.

My sandwich lay forgotten until well past noon.

How do you know if you've chosen a major that fits you? Fit is a fuzzy concept, hard to quantify or plot. But this is what it means to me:

Fit is having at least one class per year that I really, really, really look forward to. A class that I wake up thinking about and work late into the night for, not because it's required but simply because it's so interesting.

Fit is finding people who share my passion for design - who see it as so much more than just an aesthetic wrapper, but rather as... read the post »

Discussion

Sep 1 2014

What it’s like to work at NASA

Posted in: Academics & Research

Networking is a funny thing. It can be formal (and slightly artificial) - think of the scripted conversations you have with recruiters over and over at career fairs.

But it can also come about more organically - and be a whole lot more fun!

Take for instance the time I was climbing in Yosemite this summer. While cragging with some friendly strangers near Camp 4, one of them spotted the MIT Outing Club patch on my backpack and started asking about what Boston life is like.  Turns out he's going to be a Harvard Ph.D student this year, and we agreed to meet up and chat/climb in the Northeast this fall.

networking over crack(s)

^This is networking!

Or take the numerous occasions that someone has recognized the brass rat on my finger and struck up a conversation - at work, wandering Third Street Promenade, or even in the elevator of my parents' condominium.

Networking directly led to my job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory this summer, too. In the fall, one of JPL's Curiosity engineers gave a... read the post »

Discussion

May 9 2014

Do You Want To Build a Robot?

Posted in: Academics & Research

Below is one of the robots I built for 2.007, MIT's extremely popular introductory design and manufacturing class:  

For reference, here's the first "robot" I ever built, on the first day of 2.007:

Before I took 2.007, I hadn't ever used a mill or lathe.  I wasn't sure what it meant to tap a hole. Heck, I'd never used a power drill before.  But four months later, I was comfortable with all of these tools, thanks in large part to the awesome shop guys (particularly Bill and Tasker). I built my first gearbox and learned how to use fast fabrication methods.  And I built a pair of robots that actually did quite well in the competition! 

It's been a lot of fun.  Here's a rough summary of the past few months:

February

It's the first day of lab and I'm a bit nervous.  

2.007 is well known for its chaos and intensity, and it's intimidating to be told that by the end of this class you'll be building a Robot, capital 'R', and competing against your peers, many of whom... read the post »

Discussion

Feb 8 2014

Brass Rat 2016

Posted in: Life & Culture

One of the hardest things to avoid at MIT is a sense of jadedness. After a few semesters of psets, midterms, finals, and projects, that once youthful prefrosh full of joy and excitement can seem a long way away.

Ring Premiere, however, is one of those events that brings out the inner prefrosh in all of us. It’s the event where the Brass Rat for each class is revealed, and yesterday night the 2016 Brass Rat was revealed!

We don’t hold to tradition and propriety very much at MIT - the closest thing we have to an official school song is probably the Engineer’s Drinking Song - but the Brass Rat is one of the few exceptions. From the direction you wear it on your hand, to the many references to punting/tooling/hacking, to the class-specific inside jokes, it’s cloaked in tradition.

Plus, Iron Man wore it.

This year’s Premiere wasn’t without its share of flaws, not dissimilar to the Sochi Olympics, another event suffering ring-related malfunctions and accusations of... read the post »

Discussion

Feb 3 2014

#funhogging

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Life & Culture


funhogging: to take more than one's fair share of fun


When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to browse photos of mountain sports.  These hardcore ice climbers and mountaineers, braving the unknown - it was all very alluring and exotic to me.

Growing up in sunny Los Angeles, though, I never got closer to these alpine pursuits than the pages of a Patagonia catalog.  Certainly I loved hiking, and spent a lot of time in national parks like Yosemite and Zion.  But spending time in the outdoors during winter was never something that I really got to do.

And so I count myself very fortunate this IAP to have discovered Winter School - an annual winter skills program put on by the MIT Outing Club.  It's been one of the best things that's happened to me at MIT.


“These are all silent sports. None requires a motor; none delivers the cheers of a crowd. In each sport, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature.”

-... read the post »

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