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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

IAP in Review: Week One by Paul B. '11

IAP should stand for Independent Awesome Period.

A couple of days ago, I was working on an entry talking about all the things I was planning on doing during IAP…and then I got distracted by, well, IAP.

Oops. :)

So, here’s a quick recap of what I’ve done so far during the first week of MIT’s Independent Activities Period.

  • On Monday, I had Orientation at the Broad Institute for my UROP there – which, among other things, means that I now have a Broad email address! Right now I’m working on identifying the genetic basis of various tuberculosis strains’ antibiotic resistance using computational methods…which is basically a fancy way of saying I’m using computer scripts (which I’m working on writing!) to compare a bunch of genetic sequences.
  • For three hours a day, Monday through Friday, I’m taking 6.189 – a crash course in Python programming. So far we’ve gone through functions, conditionals, for and while loops, lists/tuples, and various other things. I’m enjoying it quite a lot, because although I’d previously taught myself a bit of Python, it really makes a difference when I’m learning it alongside fifty or so other people. Plus the projects we’ve been working on have all been really interesting: so far I’ve coded a hangman program, a primitive login system, the game of nims, and a Pig Latin converter (in addition other, less interesting things).
  • On Tuesday and Thursday nights, I’ve been taking jiu-jitsu lessons as a PE class. I’m really quite glad I decided to take jiu-jitsu, as I’ve been trying to pick up a martial art for quite some time – there really is no time like IAP for doing those things you never seem to find time for during the term!
  • Finally, on Friday, my friends JR ’11, Jesse ’11, and I worked together to fun Athens, a live-action roleplaying game we wrote (with Susan ’11) over last summer. I’ll be blogging about Athens (and what live-action roleplaying is) more in-depth later on.

And here’s a look at what I’ll be doing for the next three weeks:

  • More UROPing! More jiu-jitsu! More Python! Yay!
  • Teaching a truffles-making class with Laboratory for Chocolate Science, one of MIT’s more…unique student groups. Mm, chocolate.
  • Teaching an introductory LaTeX class with Jess ’09.
  • (Hopefully) playing in Thebes, a ten-day-long immersive roleplaying game put on by the Assassins’ Guild.
  • Beginning a very casual and very short campaign of Dungeons & Dragons with a few friends.
  • Attending UPOP, a one-week, for-credit, internship strategies class designed for sophomores majoring in engineering.
  • Going on a week-long retreat with LeaderShape

And, of course, blogging. Is there anything in particular you want to hear about? Just let me know!

20 responses to “IAP in Review: Week One”

  1. Keri says:

    I want to hear about Zephyr classes, even though I probably still won’t use them. ^_^

  2. Suril says:

    IAP < uber-cool!

    Saw your hangman code, just curious if it would be case-sensitive. You might need to use upper()? [ah, bugs – love ’em! :p]

  3. Suril says:

    Err.. my mistake. missed the lower() there! [Pardon the novice QA] whoops.. [seems awkward to make back-to-back comments correcting myself] :(

  4. Colton says:

    The more I hear about MIT, the more I want to go. Although I know Python well enough to develop websites with it and django, I still need to learn LaTeX at some point.

  5. Dhvanit says:

    This is what makes MIT more desirable..In simple words, the sheer amount+quality of work=play=fun=life makes you go buzzing with joy!

  6. akhila says:

    I wanna know more about things that can be done during freshman year and UROP

  7. Aditya says:

    So it’s like a no-stress environment now?

  8. Alvin says:

    Wow Paul! That’s quite a lot you’re doing during IAP! We should catch up sometime when you’re available..

  9. Ivan says:

    Can you participate in more than one UROP at a time?

    Is there such a thing as “UROP window shopping”? (You get to see all the UROPs before picking one?)

  10. JR'11 says:

    A: You’re not going to be joining the pet mangoes?
    B: I want to hear about the best pizza Cambridge has to offer.

  11. Jacob '13 says:

    LARPing. There really is a place for everyone at MIT. I’ve tried to start a couple of D&D games, but I never really got anywhere with them.

    How do you find/apply for/get accepted to a UROP, especially at the Broad? That’s where I’d like to go for a UROP.

  12. Paul says:

    Keri: Here, this should be enough to get you started. wink Or, you know, ask me to show you in person sometime.

    Suril: Heh, no worries. Making sure that the program sanitized and validated all the input was one of the more enjoyable parts of coding it.

    Aditya: Less stressful, definitely. Still busy though. smile

    Alvin: Yes, let’s! Just let me know when you’re free.

    Ivan: Yes, one of my fraternity brothers has two UROPs, but they keep him really busy, so I wouldn’t really recommend it. As for “window shopping” – I’m not quite sure what you mean. You are free to ask as many professors as you want for UROPs, and if two or more professors happen to say yes, you are free to choose between them as you please.

    JR(A): (For those curious, pet mangoes is the name of the Simmons Hall Mystery Hunt team.) Yeah, sadly Mystery Hunt conflicts with Leadershape, so I can’t Hunt with you guys this year. Sorry!

    JR(B): Does Sicilia’s count? They totally deliver to MIT.

    Jacob: Persistence, mostly. I’ll address this more completely in a later entry, when I write about my UROP experience(s) more in depth.

  13. Ivan says:

    The “window shopping” was suppose to mean: If I do not know what UROP I would like to participate in, since there will be so many to choose from and all will seem really exciting, is there a way to preview what you would do in each UROP before choosing to work on one?

    Do the teachers conducting the research let you observe a few days what researching in their lab is like before you decide to work with them or not?

    Does that make sense?

  14. Kevin S Lin says:

    IAP sounds like so much fun smile

    think Athens is going to have an online debut anytime soon?

  15. Chris says:

    Alright! This is the first post I’ve seen about the Assassin’s Guild. Assassin’s Guild is one of the major non-academic parts of MIT that intrigues me the most. I tried to start one at my school, but there wasn’t enough interest. I can’t wait to be somewhere that actually has one.

  16. Tamara says:

    Python is not fun anymore ( /I can’t get it to work). Also, you left me :(

  17. deng says:

    write about the hunt/past hunts ^_^

  18. Arfa '13 says:

    Would you recommend doing a urop freshman year during iap? is that possible?

  19. donaldGuy says:

    @Keri: there is a lot to be said about the use of zephyr classes as a theoretical matter (aka “the why?”). The practical “how to” is found where Paul said or, possibly more relevantly, here:

  20. mOni says:

    Le laboratoire pour la Science de Chocolat

    Orientation at the Broad Institute for your UROP?!


    Wow…That’s a perfect vacation plan!!!! ROCK on!
    (Thanks for posting)