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MIT student blogger Kevin S. '19

9 / Headache by Kevin S. '19

68 days to go

To set the mood: i’m so tired… by lauv & troye sivan


What a headache

Where does the time go?! We’re somehow halfway through the semester already. I envisioned my final semester to be ~ c h i l l ~ but it didn’t start out that way.

I spent the first few weeks trying to figure out what classes I wanted to take. I was registered in 10 different classes the first week, made some tough decisions, and dropped down to 5 the next.

Through out all this switching around, I also started a new UROP in the HCI Engineering group at CSAIL led by Prof. Stefanie Mueller who taught the 6.810 class I took last semester. For the past few weeks, I’ve been rushing to finish prototypes for a project to be submitted to the UIST 2019 conference, deadline April 5th.

A prototype:


Suddenly, I started having headaches that wouldn’t go away. At first I thought it was a fluke. But a week later, the headaches alternating between getting much worse to slightly better and I went to MIT Medical urgent care. Nothing significant had changed in my diet, sleep schedule, or lifestyle. The doctor diagnosed it as tension headaches, and suggested I take it easy, rest, and drink water. Quite peculiar, because I wasn’t any more stressed now than I had been the past 3.5 years. My body was forcing me to lighten my load.

The evening before Add Date, I dropped a class and switched two non-required ones to Junior/Senior P/D/F.

And now my schedule is a tad bit lighter:

Below is a rundown of my classes this semester.


I don’t have any pset classes, but I’ve been doing so much reading and writing. 6.033 (Computer System Engineering) is a CI-M, and we’re reading technical papers each recitation.

For example:

Last week we submitted our 2,500-word preliminary report for the semester-long Design Project.

Brainstorming, like…



I’m taking 6.S978 (Privacy Law) for intellectual curiosity (aka just for fun) and have been reading case briefs, Supreme Court opinions, and research papers and trying my hand at legislative drafting. For example, *Carpenter v. U.S., U.S. v. Jones*, and Kyllo v. U.S.

The class is taught in conjunction with Georgetown Law, and I’m in a group with 2 law and 1 other MIT student. We’re working on devising a federal bill to regulate smart city transportation technologies. I’m quite out of my element here, but I’m getting a lot of help from the law students. The two of us engineers are trying to pull our weight and contribute our understanding of technical solutions to privacy law (read: differential privacy).

For example,



This semester, my days start early, either 9 or 9:30am. It isn’t ideal, but I wanted to take classes in Course 4, and the two I ended up with are morning studios.

A new class, 4.053 (Visual Communication Fundamentals) is an introduction studio to graphic and visual design. The lecturer works full-time as the Head of Product Design at Continuum. *** This is the class I’ve always been missing in my life, even if it’s at 9am. *** I’m spending way too much time on the projects simply because I’m so invested in it and I love it. Each week, we have a lecture and then a critique of either a work-in-progress or our final presentation. So far, we’ve produced a redesigned membership card for the New England Aquarium, a cafe menu, and a brand identity for the City of Cambridge.

A vision for my future cafe :)



I’m taking 4.314 (Common Ground: Art, Science, and Agriculture) for my last HASS requirement, but WOW, this class has completely transformed the way I think, perceive, and understand the world. It’s opened up my awareness to power relations, infrastructure, and state building and our relationship to ecology, agriculture, and the land we live on. Our class discussions have me rethinking and questioning pretty much everything.

We have lots of readings on a variety of topics such as: James Scott’s Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest State, Silvia Federici’s Re-Enchanting the World and George Caffentzis’ The Future of ‘The Commons’: Neoliberalism’s ‘Plan B’ or the Original Disaccumulation of Capital?, and Dominique LaPorte’s The History of Shit, and studying films like Wild Relatives and The Gleaners and I.

The class is centered on an architectural, archeological, and ecological heritage site in a village near Ramallah, Palestine, where we’ll visit over Spring Break. We’re studying traditional ecological practices within the context of the first civilizations, and how they may offer alternative solutions for our current ecological crises around the world. My group is working on designing a rocket stove, which we prototype and tested with clay.

Miniature rocket stove prototypes…



Earlier this semester I also did some fun things. Here are some highlights.

Learned how to weld for 4.314! We also got shop training at the Media Lab:


Spent a weekend for the Winter Canival in Quebec City, even colder than Boston, and skating on a outdoor lake, oh là là:


Designed a sticker for the College of Computing launch:


Heard from the Design Director for Google Home and Wearables:

…in addition to other talks by designers at IDEO and New Balance organized by Course 4, and even stumbled on a talk with the former US Ambassador to Russia.


Got wet lab training for my UROP and tested different silicon gels and carbon fibers:


Skated for the last time with MIT for the Skating Club’s Spring Exhibition. Shoutout to my friends for going out of their way to make this poster:


Walked across the Harvard Bridge too many times in the cold:


But the city is starting to warm up beautifully:

Graduation countdown: 68