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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

First Day of School by Matt McGann '00

Fall term classes began today at MIT.

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:

From the interview, Prof. Sadoway on teaching freshmen:

“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.

27 responses to “First Day of School”

  1. Wings '11 says:

    I have psets due soon in 8.01, 18.01, and soon, 7.012.


    But we looked at bacteria and such in 7.012 recitation, so I’m happy =P

  2. Sceth says:

    Very pretty…Is there, by chance, a “Math for masochists?”
    Physics for Masochists sounds really fun. Of course, in a masochistic way.

  3. oasis '11 says:

    Hihihihi! =)

    I recognize that video from somewhere =D

  4. Harrison '11 says:

    8.022 is H-A-R-D I can tell you that right now

  5. Grace '11 says:

    omg, i can’t believe i have lander, sadoway, and auroux all together!!

  6. Snively says:

    Harrison, get off the webernetz and do your PSET for Friday!

  7. milena '11 says:

    First day of class!…. bleh.

    Well, I don’t have any of those (I wanted to do 3.091 but I can’t), but I’m desperately trying to get into Dourmashkin’s TEAL lecture. I went today and he’s a very nice professor :D

  8. Wings '11 says:

    I get Mattuck and Lander this semester! w00t. I unfortunately won’t have Sadoway, though, and this saddens me =( Who’s teaching 18.02 and 18.03 in the spring? (Yes, I’m inquiring about two classes, I know.)

    First day was pretty awesome! I was really tired from going to bed so late, though, so I’m trying to get an early start tonight. I only have 3 classes tomorrow so I think I’m good =)

  9. Keri says:

    I was in 18.02 with Auroux last term! That phone call was hilarious, and his speed-erasing was… well, speedy.

  10. Evan '10 says:

    Physics for masochists == 8.012, 8.022
    Math for masochists == 18.014, 18.022, 18.023, 18.024, 18.034, etc
    Chemistry for masochists == 5.112

  11. Maria says:

    That’s amazing that there is a tenured prof who is only 27

  12. ralph says:

    Just a confirmation required-the secondary school report in the my mit account can be used by internationals as well..right?

    B. Transcript: Please attach a copy of the applicant’s most recent
    transcript including:
    a) subjects taken, year taken and grades
    b) subjects failed or repeated
    c) subjects in progress
    d) test results, such as CB or ACT (Please note, these
    results do not substitute for official score reports)

    CB-collegeboard?we have to send the SAT results physically too?

  13. Anonymous says:

    another doubt(again from the secondary school report)
    C. Summary and Recommendation: Attach an appraisal

    so that makes 3 recommendations in total..right?(1maths/science 1 languages/humanities and 1principal/counselor)

    also why is this form called the secondary school report?aren’t we in high school?
    PS-hawkins’12/hawkins/hawking!!-looking forward to help frm u mate!’s someone giving u a run for ur money!

  14. Hawkins says:

    I’m visiting in a couple weeks… can’t wait! Maybe I’ll get to see some of these guys in action.

  15. Laura says:

    Prof Auroux is like, the coolest guy ever. I was lucky enough to have him as my recitation instructor two years ago, back before he was the main lecturer. I’ll treasure those memories. =)

  16. Carla '11 says:

    I’ve got a lecture with Sadoway, and he’s amazing. Also got Mattuck. And yes, I walked out of two hours of classes with p-sets.

  17. Hawkins says:

    @Ralph – Hope this helps… =)

    * All components of the freshman application are the same for international students as they are for US citizens. The Secondary School Report Form (secondary school = high school) is to be filled out by your guidance counselor or principal/headmaster.

    * CB probably stands for CollegeBoard. I’m certain this is referring to standardized test scores, and MIT only accepts SAT and ACT. So… that’s what it means. You don’t have to send them a physical copy of your scores, but you should have CollegeBoard send your official SAT or TOEFL results to MIT’s school code (3514) if you did not already do so when you took the test.

    * You are correct about the evaluations. One from a math/science teacher, one from a language/humanities teacher, and one from a principal/guidance counselor.

  18. ralph says:

    thanx ! yup it did help..
    i think we will have to send copies of the SAT scores bcoz the instructions say-“Transcript: Please attach a copy of ……d) test results, such as CB”…that means we have to send it..isnt it?

    u didn’t answer y its called a secondary school answer that too!

  19. Hawkins says:

    @Michael – The Records Office fax number is (617) 258-8304.

  20. michael says:

    hi everyone
    can we fax an application fee waiver request to mit?if do we get the number to fax to?

  21. Hawkins says:

    @ralph – Whatever your guidance office has on hand should be acceptable, as long as it lists your scores. I thought you were asking if you had to make a copy of the results that were mailed to you and send that in (which is also fine). Oops!

    From Wikipedia:
    “Secondary school is a term used to describe an institution where the final stage of compulsory schooling, known as secondary education, takes place. It follows on from primary or elementary education. There are many different types of secondary school and the terminology used varies around the world… In the United States the term high school is often used as a synonym for secondary school.”

  22. michael says: we CAN fax the request ..right?

  23. Isshak says:

    Wow this teacher looks fun. And the caller was french lol ! But Mr Auroux had some kind of accent too. Is he french too ?

  24. Hawkins says:

    @Michael – I’m not entirely sure, and I wouldn’t want to give you an incorrect answer. What I would do in your situation is go ahead and fax it, and include a note that says something like, “If this request should be mailed instead of faxed, please contact me as soon as possible at [e-mail address].”

  25. deusse says:

    Hey everyone!Just an off the topic question:can I submit Part 1 of the application online before faxing the fee waiver form?

  26. Ana says:

    Since we started talking about applications and tests and stuff, I have another question: I am an international and plan to submit the SAT Reasoning Test together with the required SAT Subject Tests. Do I still have to submit the Toefl result? I know MIT requires only one test between SAT and Toefl, but it says for internationals Toefl is strongly recommended. Am I at a disadvantage if I don’t submit the Toefl?