Today was the first day of classes at MIT. Once again, the Infinite Corridor was abuzz with activity, people excited for the new year of classes. For the Class of 2011, these are their very first MIT classes.
I only vaguely remember my first day of classes at MIT back in the Fall of 1996. I do remember my classes and my professors: Physics with Wolfgang Ketterle, Math with Hartley Rogers, Chemistry with Bob Silbey, and Psych with Steven Pinker. For me, physics was certainly the hardest; not only did my high school have weak (no AP or honors, iirc) preparation, but I also, for some reason, chose to enroll in MIT’s hardest physics class, dubbed “Physics for Masochists.” When I successfully completed the course, though, I felt a sense of accomplishment like never before, and I knew I was ready for whatever else MIT would throw at me.
I like that MIT doesn’t just have any old professor teach freshmen — in fact, many of MIT’s best professors teach the intro classes. Of my first term teachers, Prof. Ketterle won the Nobel Prize in Physics, Prof. Rogers inspired fan pages and various affectionate hacks, Prof. Silbey became MIT’s Dean of Science, and Prof. Pinker… well, he decided to move to Harvard.
This term, the tradition continues, with many of MIT’s beloved professors teaching intro classes. Arthur Mattuck, who also inspires fan pages, teaches two of the Math courses; Eric Lander, the first author on the publication of the human genome, teaches Biology; a the beloved Don Sadoway teaching Chemistry. Take a look at this picture that MIT’s student newspaper, The Tech, published with an interview of Sadoway last week:
“It’s true, we’re very busy, but those of us who choose to teach freshman classes care very much about the mentoring role we have to play, and I can tell you I consider nothing more important than mentoring the students I teach.”
A relatively new name to me, but no less beloved by current MIT students, is Denis Auroux. Prof. Auroux — speed-eraser extraordinaire — is just two years older than me, but is a tenured professor in Math at MIT. (Wow.) [Not as wow as being two years younger than me, tenured in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow… but I digress…]
For the past two years, all I’ve heard is students gushing about this amazing new math professor. And late last week, someone showed me this video of Prof. Auroux on Youtube, entitled “A lovely phone call”:
For those of you who didn’t make it to the end, the epilogue reads:
Footage made in MIT lecture hall 10-250 at 2:41pm, 8 December 2006.
The student calling, who prefers to remain anonymous, insists it was a “sincere” declaration.
We all wish to thank Dr. Auroux for his outstanding fall 2006 18.02 [Multivariable Calculus] class.
Brought to you by the “frosh” MIT Class of 2010.
If you like, come visit MIT, stay overnight, check out the classes with Profs. Auroux, Mattuck, Lander, and Sadoway, and see for yourself.