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CPW: ASA Midway, B1 B1athalon, and Cutting Crafts with Contour by Amber V. '24

not to mention meet the bloggers

CPW was so much fun! I meant to get this blog up and running beforehand, but I was too busy prepping for all the events I lead or helped with! Here’s how they went.


My team and I held several events to show adMITs the software-free laser cutter, called Contour, that we built last semester in 2.009.01 a product development capstone class  

After 2.009, nine of us continued working on the project. We’re called Contour now, not Pink Team, and we’re still figuring out how much of our name to capitalize. We’re digging into market research, learning the ins and outs of team formation, and testing our product with potential users.

We held several events to show adMITs our laser cutter, teach them how to use it, and generate hype for MechE. When I entered MIT, I had no idea I’d get as invested in building things as I currently am — I wanted to inspire frosh to see what they can build after a few years at MIT!

I’ve become one of two co-leads on Contour, and I spearheaded the organization and logistics for our three events. The team all worked hard to make this happen — UX prepared posters, stickers, and keychains, Software did several overhauls on the code to make it more robust, and the other co-lead helped run and prep for events. I love working with this team; every time we have a deadline, I feel at once that my work is needed to get it done, and that I can depend on everyone to push until the work is done.

our laser cutter on a desk

look at him. he’s so beautiful

The day of the last and biggest event, “Discover Making and MechE with CONTOUR,” we had an especially ambitious goal: we wanted to have adMITs cut whatever they wanted on the laser cutter. We’ve tested with a few outside people, but never a crowd of creative teenagers, and we were curious to see what people would come up with and how they would respond to our constraints. We set up our wood and paper, keychains and stickers and candy in the MechE Lounge, expecting about twenty people to stop by over the next two hours.

Instead, there were about seventy.

AdMITs who were all much taller than me filled the MechE Lounge, so much that getting from one side to the other felt like moving through a crowded dance floor. Their bodies blocked the light from the laser cutter; their voices covered the hum of the motors. People poured out of the MechE Lounge and filled the hallway.

This was glorious and terrifying. I warned the back half of the line that the wait would be long. Contour takes about three minutes to cut out a small shape, so realistically we only had time for about 40 people to cut out their drawings. And that didn’t account for drawings that weren’t designed for laser cutters, or times the CV02 computer vision software messed up.

And sometimes the software messed up. We spent the first hour and a half with a sub-optimal set-up that led to a number of errors. After we switched things around, we could catch most errors early on, and cutting out shapes went a lot more smoothly.

Once we got Contour on a roll, it worked so well! I loved watching the machine we’d built cut out so many designs.


viking boat dragon I drew

By the time the event was over, there were still 24 hopeful adMITs. Some were holding multiple sheets of paper for their friends.

Almost all of the team had to leave. There was just one person on Software left, and me. But we felt bad sending the adMITs away, when they’d waited so long. We kept cutting out projects for a half hour or so. Then my teammate had class, leaving me alone with the machine and small handful of remaining adMITs. I took over and kept cutting their projects.

I was impressed by how creative everyone was. Some students were clearly artists, and beautiful, complicated shapes came easily to them. Others had no art background at all, and came up with creative ways to design interesting shapes. There were a lot of beavers and Wide Tims traced from phone screens.

I finished cutting adMIT projects about thirty minutes after the event ended. Then I cut my own viking ship. Finally I cleaned up (another team member skipped a meeting to help me cart all of our supplies back), and began to rush to another meeting, thinking how I’d barely have time to grab food on the way… when I found a bench with five trays of Anna’s Taqueria. I grinned. The free food gods were rewarding me for my labors.

I loved the adMITs’ energy. They asked good questions about MechE and the workload at MIT, and I felt that as a senior, I was able to answer those better than I had been before. My answers weren’t universal — but I tried to keep them unbiased, to be clear about what biases I might have, and to emphasize the many paths different students take.

I was left with a lot of insight and a lot of questions about where to take Contour from here.

dragon cutout

Meet the Bloggers

I’ll be at our very own Meet the Bloggers, where we wear shirts with our faces on them, eat pie, and meet adMITs. The blogs have been such a wonderful thing to be part of these last four years. The bloggers were one of my first communities at MIT, during the covid year, and they were one of my strongest connections to the Institute when everything was shut down. Writing blogs taught me to tell stories about myself, to capture pieces of the real world and preserve them, which is different from writing reflections of the world in fiction. This skill has been so useful in blogging, poetry, and monologues. 

I talked with Jeremy about careers and PhDs. As I grow older, Jeremy and other staff have become the people in the blogger community I know best. I felt a bit older, a bit less entertained by whatever quirky thing I’d done – though interesting to imagine all the different ambers there could have been. Some people have an inevitability to them, if they went to [redacted] university they’d be much the same. But you – who would you be in Tucson? Who would you be in art school?

I didn’t have the words for it then but I do imagine those women – me in Tucson who might have learned to go to frat parties but wouldn’t have found spaces like B1, a group of majority queer, majority women who become the life of any dance floor. In Tucson she wouldn’t really emerge from being more of a nerd than most people around her. I thought of myself in art school,03 by this I mean literally any school that isn't MIT, where I would spend more time and effort on my creative writing degree; not 'art school' per se but my experience of it would encompass more art my art getting better; maybe I’d be published by now. I’d be terrified for my career after the rise of AI. I don’t know who exactly I’d be.

But in the meeting room I thought, I like the MIT version best. 

all of the bloggers!

bloggers, met

ASA Midway

Walking through Midway and talking to pre-frosh for a club was warm and bittersweet. I hadn’t been in that space since my own CPW in 2019, and again during sophomore REX. This time I knew so many people! Some of my friends have exec roles on AAI04 Asian American Initiative and BSU05 Black Students' Union , and I learned that some of my teammates from MechE projects are also on Casino Rueda06 Cuban salsa team and Divest,07 Environmental action club and friends I knew from classes are apparently in BioMakerspace and Mocha.08 hip-hop dance team The list goes on, but you get the idea. I love the interconnectedness of MIT, how many passions people pour their time into.

There was also a sort of nostalgia to passing by clubs I find compelling but never had the bandwidth to join. I wondered how my dancing or singing abilities might have improved with three years of dedicated practice. I’ll have more time to learn new skills after MIT, but finding spaces to learn with will be much more difficult. Mujeres Latinas and LUCHA also stood out to me; I’ve signed up for their mailing lists at various times, but never really went to meetings. I’ve found Latinx culture in my dorm communities and friendships instead. I know I can only be deeply invested in so many communities, and that I didn’t have the bandwidth for clubs until senior spring — but that may be different next year, and I looked up Hispanic graduate school clubs that evening.

Burton One B1athalon!

b1athalon poster

The B1ners09 B1ner = boner = person who lives on Burton One. Pronounced 'boner.' B-one-r, get it? turned the Burton One hallway into an obstacle course and sent adMITs leaping over chairs, ducking under tables, and shooting nerf guns into a target. Sofia and Jonathan directed the set-up and running of the event. They’re both underclassmen, and it was awesome to see them take charge and know that the floor will keep going strong after the seniors are gone.

the hallway full of obstacles

We ran the B1athalon on Thursday and Saturday night. On Saturday, some adMITs mentioned wanting to go to a party, so we started a party in the flounge.10 B1 floor lounge Music blasted down the hallway right outside. I hung out in a nearby suite with Selena ’24, a fellow B1ner, and about 10 adMITs.

Some adMITs had questions about life in the dorms: was it loud? How long did parties go for? If you’re not on the meal plan,

Other adMITs were all worn out of questions and were simply drinking in the vibes, making conversation, or planning their next move. Some were trying to find pancakes; others wanted to make a karaoke event.

Other B1ners came and we discussed life, the universe, and everything.

When I went to sleep around 2 or 3 am, some of the adMITs were still talking with each other, sitting on the rug in our flounge. Some were choosing between MIT and another college; others were committed. Some of them may never be in that room again, and maybe some will end their weekend nights on that rug for years to come.

pancakes that spell 'b1ner'

b1ner pancakes from a different b1 event, bab1o b1casso :D

  1. a product development capstone class back to text
  2. computer vision back to text
  3. by this I mean literally any school that isn't MIT, where I would spend more time and effort on my creative writing degree; not 'art school' per se but my experience of it would encompass more art back to text
  4. Asian American Initiative back to text
  5. Black Students' Union back to text
  6. Cuban salsa team back to text
  7. Environmental action club back to text
  8. hip-hop dance team back to text
  9. B1ner = boner = person who lives on Burton One. Pronounced 'boner.' B-one-r, get it? back to text
  10. B1 floor lounge back to text
  11. I think Jacky and I span the range of most to least culinary effort and skill. My friend cooks potatoes and hamburger patties in the microwave, so she may be beating me, but she hasn't written a blog about it so back to text