Jun 19, 2011
This is the end
Posted in: Miscellaneous
First things first, I have to post this, as promised in an earlier blog entry:
What could this possibly mean? It means I've graduated!!! Holy smokes, four years of MIT and now it's over. It seems like it goes so fast, how could it be over? Then you think about specific moment, all of the episodes, and you realize that it didn't go fast, that it took just as long as anything else takes because there's no way to slow or quicken the progression of time. So here we are, four years from when I started, and I get to look back at all I've done. Not gonna lie, sometimes it's hard to remember (not because the moments are painful, just because they were a long time ago and I'm getting old), and all these blog entries I've got archived here are an awesome way to reminisce.
Ups and Downs
It started on my personal blog with this, admittedly, super tooly entry. It's amazing to compare how I act and write now with some of my earlier entries, both in my personal blog and MIT blog. MIT has certainly calmed me down, added a slight glaze to my eyes, and made me demand more than just trivial occurrences to get me excited ("Oh, math joke, not funny"). For better or for worse, I'm a different person now than I was when I got here. How much of that is MIT related and how much of that is general maturation related we may never know, but I know that it's certainly due to both.
Apart from aging me a bit, MIT has also done its best to shove every bit of knowledge it could into my relatively small brain (relatively small compared to many of my classmates). I came into MIT with very little knowledge about anything they were about to teach me. In fact, everything I learned here was new except for vectors. I dominated the first 3 weeks of 18.02 because of a pre-existing knowledge of vectors. After that, everything was completely new, and there was a lot. At MIT I learned how to machine, prototype, design, sketch, how to do mechanics and select materials, how to to define dynamic systems and control them, I learned more about thermal fluids than I thought existed, I learned Matlab and MathCAD, learned how to design circuit boards and how to surface mount solder, discovered a budding love of literature, and saw/experienced more events than I could have imagined.
All the learning and amazing experiences were certainly countered by a lot of negativity, to be sure. One tends to start getting disillusioned here, everything stops seeming so Utopian and begins feeling more routine. So what if this guy invented that? Oh look, a unicycle, meh. Killian court turns into a big piece of lawn, Stata becomes ugly instead of awesome, and lectures turn into a chore instead of an exciting opportunity for learning. This does not apply to everybody, of course, I'm just telling you about my experiences. One of the things that gets me most is how MIT seemed to take all of the things I used in my application to get into this school (marching band, speech team, building things in my free time, etc) and managed to remove all the time I had to do those things. MIT took away all the things it wanted me for because of the crushing amount of working. Just sitting and doing nothing during my free time became a very appealing notion, something that rarely happened before MIT.
In the end, I'm glad I came here, absolutely. I learned so much about both myself, engineering, and life. Plus, I mean, really, look at this thing.
Totally worth it. So what now? You haven't heard much from me in the last year or so, let me fill you in!
The Past Year
Last summer I worked Analog Devices Inc and, while I learned a lot, I discovered that electrical engineering was not my thing. That's ok, that's what internships are for! I also biked to work every day, 16.5 miles each way, and lost 40 pounds. I am the champion of the "stop eating and exercise a lot" diet!
This last school year was divided into two pretty distinctly different semesters, the "work my butt off" semester and the "be as lazy as possible/thesis" semester. The first semester was dedicated to 2.009, the capstone MechE class that gives teams of 20 a semester to design and build some product, in my team's case a fleet of robots that delivers sushi to waiting patrons. I was the "System Integrator" for the team which pretty much required me to glue my phone to my ear and stop sleeping.
Between semesters, during IAP in January, I did an unpaid externship at 5W!TS Productions (more about that later).
Second semester is when, just like high school, senioritis hit. Second semester I cranked through Atlas Shrugged, beat Plants vs. Zombies as thoroughly as humanly possible, began the epic adventure that is Minecraft, wrote a 100+ page thesis, and graduated!
So, January, that was a good month! Back in September I visited a place called 5W!TS and fell in love.
They had a walk-through adventure game, somewhat like a real-life video game, that had me crawling through lasers and ventilations ducts, cracking safes, defusing bombs, and debugging rooms. It was a MechE wonderland! I was as fascinated by the adventure as I was by the technical details behind all of it. I awkwardly and giddily started asking every question I could come up with. As it turns out, the CEO was an MIT alum with close ties to MIT's Toy Design Class and its teaching staff. I was bouncing with excitement for the entire bus ride back to campus. The next day I e-mailed the CEO and asked if I could work there in January. The email said something along the lines of "I don't know if I'm correct in emailing the CEO to ask for an internship, but can I have one?" The answer was yes and lemme tell you, it was AWESOME! I spent the month helping to finish their 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea game. In other words, I helped build the Nautilus. I modified hundred-year-old Edison Wax Cylinder players, built governors for the engine room, and wired up the fuel rod receptacle. I helped turn this
In addition to its two games (Espionage and 20k), 5W!TS does production and effects work for museums. You know all those neat interactives and demos you see at science museums? Yeah, they build those things (AWESOME!). As it turns out, over the last year or so, I began realizing that I didn't want to be a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineers tend to design and engineer but then ship off designs for fabrication. I wanted to build things! I wanted to design, build, use, and move on. I didn't want to work on one small insignificant part of a 10 year project, I wanted to be a part of each project from beginning to end and help with all of the phases. 5W!TS allows that to happen, with just 9 people doing the brainstorming, designing, and building for 2-3 month projects. After January was over and after I received several grad school rejections (not so important after discovering 5W!TS) I accepted a full time position at 5W!TS, where I have now just finished my second week. I'm moving into my first apartment on July 1st, have a new car (bet with my parents I made in 5th grade, they said they'd get me a harley if I graduated from MIT. I accepted a car instead.), and am about to start real life. Crazy? Crazy!
This is all exciting, but let's talk a bit more about commencement and the end of the semester, that's exciting too!
At MIT, and probably other colleges as well, mortarboard decorations are a staple of any good commencement. A week or so before the ceremony my friend Pall posted something on my facebook wall
HELL YEAH! Fast forward to staging before the march to Killian
I ended up with the blue portal and the front half of the beaver. It was super awesome. Even President Hockfield thought it was pretty rockin'
On a quick side note, I'm pretty sure these two professors were playing Angry Birds during the whole ceremony
At the end of the 2.5 hour long name-reading extravaganza I headed over to the MechE reception for food, free coffee cups, and pictures. Awwww
By the end of the day I was exhausted and ended up just laying on the couch playing Minecraft. A good end to a good day, the official conclusion of four years at the 'tute.
Toast to Tech
MIT held a MASSIVE celebration a day or two after commencement to cap off the MIT150 celebration in a grand fashion. Grand. Like, most lavish thing I've seen at MIT in the four years I've been here. I'll let the pictures I took speak for themselves.
MIT Seal Ice Sculpture
Beaver Ice Sculpture
MIT Ice Sculpture
The Prudential Building Celebrates With Us
This next bit needs an explanation. MIT sprang for a 750 pound cake, or suite of cakes. It was amazing, check it out!
Dome and Green Building
Tim Flopped on the Bridge (reminds me of this)
A special shout-out to the Hernley family for adopting me that evening and letting me pal around with you, it was great fun.
To conclude, I want to talk a little about the relationship I have with these blogs.
No cliches, no sappy messages, no speeches. Read any of my blog entries and you'll see that my role on these blogs isn't to fit in and publish what everybody else is publishing. Nor is it to publish what people think I should publish. No, when I got hired to be an MIT admissions blogger, second semester of freshman year, I made it my goal to blog about all the things you would NOT expect to see on an admissions website. I wanted to share all of the things MIT hides from prospective students and all of the things you'd never find out about unless you were here.
I blogged about hot dogs, bathrooms, thongs from VS, bad experiences with physics professors, wrote the first entry ever removed from the blogs (so they say) and ended up in Matt McGann's office more than once. I made admissions enforce their censorship-free stance many a time in an effort to bring the really nitty gritty parts of MIT to the blogs, the parts that aren't so pretty, the parts MIT doesn't want you to know. I loved this about my job because, while generally an amazing place, MIT is not a perfect place, and making sure applicants know this adds a degree of believability and credibility to both the school and the admissions blogs. My favorite blog-related quote came from Ben Jones, MIT's ex-communications guru. He came up to me one day after a particularly brutal entry and said "Snively, in the four months you've been blogging here we've received more complaints from faculty and deans about your entries than we've received about all of the entries ever published in the last four years."
I took that to mean I was doing my job right ;)
The nice emails from parents, from prospective students, the comments on the entries themselves, the random encounters during campus tours and CPW, and all of the kind words in whatever form or fashion they reached me in meant a lot. Ok, it was creepy sometimes, and usually pretty awkward, but looking back it's nice to know that I was able to help the number of people I did.
When you write an entry and push it to the site you forget how many people read them. There are the prospective students, of course, but also current students. Then there are the parents of prospective students, and the parents of current students. I got a comment once from a parent, thanking me for blogging about physics because their son didn't call as often as they'd like him to. By reading my blogs they were able to see what his classes were like. Not only students, prospective students, and parents, but faculty members also read these blogs. More than once have I shown up for the first day of class and had a faculty member already know who I am . . . or at least know the Internet version of me. More than once, in a class (usually a smaller class, to be fair), a professor has mentioned or referenced something about me that they've read here.
But it even goes farther than that. I met President Susan Hockfield for the first time at a Christmas reception and before I even had a chance to introduce myself I heard her yell "SNIVELY!" when she saw me and then beckon me over, proceeding then to scold me for not saying hi when I saw her walking down Vassar Street. Yes, even MIT's president reads these blogs.
These blogs are important and their aim is true. Admissions really does want the outside world to see the raw and unedited side of this school through the eyes of current students. Anytime you find yourself reading them and thinking "Hm, this all seems staged" or "The admissions office is feeding them stuff," know that you're mistaken. Â Anything is fair game so long as you have bloggers that are willing to stick their neck out and attract the negative attention that comes along with sharing the smaller and more controversial aspects of MIT. And really, that's what I'd come to the blogs to see, because that's the good stuff!
So that's me, and I'm all done! No more blogs, no more MIT. I'm moving on and its been a wild ride. Thanks for everything everybody, it's been awesome!