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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Hartford meeting wrap-up by Matt McGann '00

Giving a better answer to a question I was asked in my Hartford meeting.

I conducted my first of ten meetings this fall in Hartford this week. I think the meeting went quite well; the ~250 people in attendance seemed to find the session helpful and informative.

I did get one question during the Q & A section that had me flummoxed. A young man in the front row asked me what else you could do in labs besides classes and UROP. At the time I was trying to answer the question, I wasn’t thinking outside the box, and basically responded, what else is there? Only after the meeting did it occur to me that he could have been asking about some of our exciting activities. In the spirit of “better late than never,” here is a more full answer to that question:

In addition to lab classes and the opportunity to do real research through UROP, MIT also has a number of exciting activities that provide hands-on opportunities. They include, among many others:

  • MIT Motorsports / Formula SAE: As the team says, if you are an MIT student that likes to build things for fun, enjoys racing, or wants to learn a lot about the design and fabrication of complex machinery, then you may want to join the MIT Formula SAE team (check out their promo video [WMV, 3.7MB]). In FSAE, college teams design, build and race formula-style racing cars.

  • Solar Electric Vehicle Team: In the 2005 World Solar Challenge, the MIT vehicle crashed in the qualifying round, irreparably damaging 40% of its solar array, and yet still the MIT team was able to finish in sixth place. Want to help the team finally be the best solar car team in the world? (Or maybe you’d be more interested in the time the team had trouble with the police?)

  • Tech Model Railroad Club: The original home of “hacker” culture, these guys designed the very first computer game, Spacewar. Over the 50-year history of TMRC, they’ve gone well beyond trains in their innovations.

  • Student Shops: The Hobby Shop and Edgerton Center shop provide many awesome tools, including a water jet cutter, CNC lathes, metal lathes, wood lathes, bandsaws, table saws, radial arm saws, milling machines, and much more. Also, a number of dorms and houses maintain their own shops.

  • Design for Change: DfC does science and engineering for developing countries. One of a number of programs in MIT’s International Development Initiative, DfC is a student-run group which has worked on projects for Ghana, India, and Lesotho, with more to come.

Of course, this is just a sampling of groups at MIT, and don’t forget that a lot of the cool hands-on work isn’t done with a formal organization [ref: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.].

Anyway, I don’t know if you read my blog, anonymous-question-asking-young-man, but if you do, I hope this helps clarify things a bit.

Next up: Sacramento, California.

5 responses to “Hartford meeting wrap-up”

  1. JKim says:

    We all came by today and you weren’t there :( We were flummoxed.

  2. Nice word: ‘flummoxed’

    Ankit Chandra

    Gaborone,Botswana

  3. Eh for some reason I misread the comment before mine so disregard my last comment Hehe, sorry about that raspberry

  4. Kathline says:

    Hi! I went to the Sacramento information session yesterday, and I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your presentation. smile I especially liked how you focused on what MIT is like instead of only listing numbers and percentages, and I was impressed by your descriptions of the community at MIT — how everyone lives in dorms together, regardless of whether they’re upperclassmen or lowerclassmen, and how the emphasis is on truly understanding instead of competing. Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by Sacramento.