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Michael C. '16

Dec 10 2015

Ideate, Model, TEST! A long, behind-the-scenes look at 2.009

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, Miscellaneous, Academics & Research

Clockwise from top right: sketch model review, sketch model review (on a real stall), mockup review, final alpha prototype on stage.  Top left photo by John Chow.

 

End-of-the-semester class presentations are usually pretty dry events. Busy PowerPoint slides, droning presenters – “excitement,” “magic” and “this made me want to switch majors” aren’t phrases often heard in the audience.

Then again, most class presentations don’t involve a live band, an audience of 3300, and an overall class budget of a half million dollars.

Under the tutelage of Professor David Wallace, MIT’s senior capstone mechanical engineering product design class (known as 2.009) has steadily grown into a huge spectacle that attracts audience members from around the globe. It’s the closest thing you’ll find at MIT to the campus spirit-unifying atmosphere of a football game. Over the course of the 3+ hour event, 8 teams reveal the products they’ve been working on over the semester.

But while the... read the post »

Discussion

Sep 21 2015

So what makes a successful MIT student, anyway?

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Academics & Research, Life & Culture

It's Career Fair season, and that means hundreds of companies are swooping down on campus with brightly-colored t-shirts, cheap plastic goodies, and oddly-formatted emails.  I've been reading a lot of job descriptions lately, and I've noticed that recruiters regularly provide "success profiles" -- lists of traits and behaviors that are associated with job success.  

These profiles are often full of buzzwordy corporate fluff.  But when written well (i.e. when written by actual employees and not HR), a success profile can be a valuable framework when you start a job -- a compilation of past experience, something that reminds you of best practices.

This got me thinking: what would a success profile for an MIT student look like?

This is a challenging question to answer, because the variety of experiences and perspectives across MIT is staggering.  That's the whole point of going here.  There are 22+ majors, and if you do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation my experience as a... read the post »

Discussion

Mar 18 2015

Is MIT too hard?

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Academics & Research, Life & Culture

For most people, sprinting a mile in under 5 minutes is physically impossible.  And yet world-class marathon runners are able to run twenty-six back to back 4:45 miles.  How do they do it?

The answer is that they aren't sprinting.  Instead, through training they've built up an enormous aerobic capacity, which allows them to run at blazing speeds for long, sustained periods. What's sprinting for us, is a comfortable pace for them.

A proper base of training shifts your perspective of what's possible.

 

^ a non-metaphorical sprint, from a past weekend in Big Basin.

 

 

I used to think that MIT was unnecessarily hard.  Certainly it feels that way in the middle of a hell week - what's the point of having midterms, psets, and essays clustered in the same few days, anyway?  

And you know what? MIT is unnecessarily hard -- at least if you think the purpose of school is to "teach you material."  Tight, clustered deadlines don't make you learn material any better.  Turning... read the post »

Discussion

Jan 28 2015

Goodbye, for now

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Regular readers may know that I've admired Apple's design philosophies for some time.  (Regular friends are well aware of this, and are also sick of me talking about it.  By the way, have you seen the latest Jony Ive video?).

Anyway, I'm very happy to say that yesterday I joined the iPhone Product Design team, and will be working in Cupertino for the next 6 months!

^ from the Infinite Corridor to 1 Infinite Loop

 

This, however, does mean a few things:

(1) I've dropped out of MIT for Spring 2015 and will not be able to blog about MIT-related activities during this time

(2) I will not be blogging about any of the work I'm doing at Apple, for obvious reasons

 

...which basically means that I will be blogging essentially zero for the next 6 months.  I will, however, try to post some tidbits about life in the Bay Area!

 

So this is basically a temporary goodbye (and a permanent goodbye to the graduating seniors - I'll miss you).  Can't wait to meet 2019s in the... read the post »

Discussion

Jan 12 2015

How to survive your first winter: a college student’s guide

Posted in: Miscellaneous

^ how not to do it.

 

"Help! I'm from [Los Angeles/Orlando/other perpetually sunny place].  What do I need to survive an East Coast winter?"

 

I'm glad you asked!  As a lifelong Californian before I went to MIT, this is a problem I wrestled for a while.  And I've learned that it's really not that hard.  As the saying goes, "there's no such thing as bad weather - only inadequate clothing."

Sure, cold weather is cold (duh), and winter clothes are relatively expensive, but with a few basic purchases you'll be well on your way to staying warm on a budget.

Maybe you'll even learn to love winter (I do!) and its beauty:

^ I visited Ouray, CO over winter break for a few days of ice climbing.  Temperatures dropped to around -5 F at night, and yet I stayed (mostly) warm.

 

The secret to staying warm on a budget is that it's all about layering.  

Not only does this let you adjust to different temperatures (by putting on/off layers), but it also saves you money: the... read the post »

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