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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

In Their Own Words (Part 1) by Paul B. '11

I ask my friends and fraternity brothers the immortal question: "What are you doing this summer?"

A few weeks ago, I sent this email to a bunch of my friends:

Hey everyone,

As you may know, I am not-so-secretly a blogger for MIT Admissions. I want to put up an entry highlighting the various awesome things that MIT students (being, ourselves, awesome) do for the summer. So if you want to (a) be famous, (b) brag about your awesome summer, (c) help show prospective students why MIT is amazing, or (d) all of the above – I’d appreciate a quick line explaining what you’re up to this summer!

Thanks a lot,

Happily, it turns out that I have a lot of friends who like to be famous – so many, in fact, that all of their responses wouldn’t fit in this one entry. Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing all of the 30-plus responses I received with you all. I hope you enjoy this cross-section of what MIT students do during their summer “off”!

Annelise Beck ’09 (Courses 5 and 8, of Simmons): “I’ll be UROPing in Prof. Field‘s lab (in the chemistry department) again. Unlike last summer, when I was relatively inexperienced and mostly did experimental work, it looks like I’m going to start my own theoretical project…which means improving my programming skills as well.

In August, I’m going to the ACS meeting in Philadelphia as part of a special program for undergraduates in physical chemistry – there are special talks and dinners with featured speakers and various professors for the students selected for this program. It’s the first year that this program has occurred, so I don’t really know what it will be like, but I’m really looking forward to attending talks and physical chemistry poster sessions, both because physical chemistry is great and because I need to start deciding what grad school I want to attend, so scoping out research at various places will be helpful. (Oh my god, grad school…panic!)”

Mike Bennie ’10 (Course 6, of Phi Sig, formerly of Burton-Conner): “I am working at Capital IQ in NYC this summer. We write software that can be used by almost anyone involved in the financial industry from universities to investment bankers to recruiters. It is kind of cool because I get to write code in jeans and a T-shirt on Wall Street. I am writing internal software for the company using some of Microsoft’s newest development tools such as Avalon and ASP.NET. Maybe I will just copy and paste this paragraph into my resume now. :D”

Jonathan Chapman ’11 (Course 15, of Simmons): “I’m working Simmons front desk for 40 hours a week, which gives me free housing; browsing for UROPs; and having a good time. Right now I’m also writing a game for the Assassins’ Guild. Finally, I’m ‘tagging’ DVDs at Hayden Library. It’s like YouTube, but for DVDs that Hayden has. We’re using, and the project is about halfway complete.”

Erik Fogg ’09 (Course 17, of Senior Haus and Phi Delts): “I’m spending 10 weeks in Beijing, starting on the 29th of May, as an intern for the Horizon Research and Consultancy Group, a consulting firm for many large Chinese companies, including CNOOC. I will be spending my evenings and weekends wandering around the city, trying to improve my Chinese and learn the culture enough to be comfortable. I’ll be blogging, including political commentary and analysis, from; I’ll also be keeping another blog, The People’s Daily, to catalog my day-to-day experiences. In my last two weeks, I will be traveling throughout China, probably to Xi’an, Dalian, Qingdao, Guilin, and Shanghai.”

Jason Forte ’09 (Course 15, of Chocolate City): “I am performing investment banking equity research for Credit Suisse in New York City. I’ll be researching companies in the machinery, engineering, construction and environmental sciences sector.”

Teresa Giblin ’11 (Course 9, of Senior Haus): “I’ll be doing a UROP in the TedLab (MIT Language Lab) with Professor Ted Gibson. I’m running an experiment that will test whether or not the parts of the brain used for language processing are shared with other tasks by examining if there is correlation between people’s processing times for different, unrelated tasks. I will also test to see if presupposition – the use of a definite article in language – causes problems in language processing (i.e. if it takes a few milliseconds longer for the brain to process the concept). Finally, I’ll be testing if the type of modifier used in the object position of a sentence significantly affects processing time.”

Keone Hon ’11 (Course 18, of Phi Delts, formerly of Next House): “I’ll be doing a UROP in the Broad Institute – specifically, the Imaging Platform – to do some programming for a software package called CellProfiler Analyst that analyzes cell images, identifying cells and automating the process of counting or measuring various phenotypes. After work, I’ll be serving as a counselor for Research Science Institute (RSI), a summer program for rising high school seniors that’s hosted at MIT. For that, I’ll be living in Simmons with the students and will be organizing lots of fun activities (for example, I’m planning on playing frisbee every night).”

Ekaterina Kuznetsova ’09 (Course 18, of Random Hall): “I’m working at Akamai, which is not all that exciting. :)”

Nathan Lachenmyer ’10 (Courses 3 and/or 8, of Tetazoo): “I could write >1 page about everything I’m doing this summer. For a start, I’m UROPing with the Nanostructures and Computations Group (Collaborators with Ab-Initio, which is part of the Center for Theoretical Physics), doing Solar Car Team, self-studying 18.06 this summer, Shotokan Karate and Kokikai Aikido, and practicing my various trades (including juggling clubs, meteor-hammer, and throwing knives).

Michael Lin ’11 (Course 3, of Next House, formerly of Simmons): “Summer internship at NASA-Langley Research Center in southeast Virginia, Advanced Materials and Processing Branch. Mwahaha.” (Paul’s Note: Yes, he included the evil laughter in his email.)

Samantha Marquart ’11 (Course 9/Pre-Med, of Conner 2): “I am taking this summer to reflect on what I’ve done in the past year and on my journey towards MIT. I’m spending time catching up with friends and family. Getting to MIT was truly an adventure, and I love everything about being at MIT, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and reflect on the good things in life. Additionally, I am the director of my community’s vacation bible school program. The week-long camp held in Dallas, Pennsylvania, is for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. It’s my third year in charge of the program and the theme this year is Rainforest Adventure. I’m also working at my local hospital and baking a lot of cookies this summer too!”

Vrajesh Modi ’11 (Course 15, of East Campus, formerly of Burton-Conner): “I’m working as a GE-Infrastructure Engineering Intern for General Electric‘s Energy business. I’m a member of the Logistics and Trade Services team, which figures out how to transport abnormal objects (e.g. wind blades) from the place where they are manufactured to their final destination. The second day on the job, I visited the Port of Albany, where I observed the arrival of a ship much like this one.”

Brent Parham ’10 (Course 16, of Skullhouse): “ARES Corporation in D.C.!”

Cody Rebholz ’10 (Course 2, of Skullhouse): “I am the swim beach manager at the Boy Scout Camp that I went to when I was growing up. I’m also playing as much Ultimate Frisbee as possible with a summer league team.”

26 responses to “In Their Own Words (Part 1)”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post, Paul!

  2. Enas'12 says:

    Yeah Paul, seriously: Great way to show us what opportunities studying at MIT provides you with…

  3. Thanks for the post, Paul!

    Out of curiosity, how much of the summer does a UROP take up? Are you working June through August? I know that I want to research in the summer in college, but I’d want to be able to see family and friends as well.

  4. Piper says:

    That’s individual, Ilyanep =). Some people UROP the entire summer, some take a week or two off beginning and end to visit family, some take a month off and go back for July and August… yeah, you can do research and still visit family =).

  5. Paul says:

    Ilyanep: I’m UROPing for 40 hours a week for ten weeks, with a one-week break at the beginning of the summer and another break at the end of summer. Like Piper said, there’s definitely plenty of time, and most professors are going to be pretty flexible about the week(s) you take off if you just tell them in advance. smile

  6. LH says:

    And now I realize why my response was terrifically inadequate… although I still hold that “being awesome” is a perfectly legitimate summer occupation.

  7. GK says:

    I second LH.

  8. Omar '12 says:

    I really liked seeing the variety of things people do. Thanks Paul!

  9. Tanmay '12 says:

    Hey, anyone from Course 16? grin

  10. Teresa '11 says:

    Ilyanep: UROPs also vary in how long you can take off based on where most of your work is done. Since I’m doing psycholinguistics research, I can actually write most of the test sentences and analyze data on my laptop, so when I take a week off in the beginning of August, I’ll just take my laptop and keep working, which makes things even more flexible.

  11. Kevin R, '11 says:

    Great idea Paul! This definitely shows prospective students that MIT students make great use of their time doing fun and meaningful things.

    Another really cool program that some friends and I are hoping to do is Design Lab, or “D-Lab,” which focuses on applying engineering principles to solving real-world problems in developing countries.

    To those of you checking out MIT, you definitely have access to a lot of resources, between promising internships UROPs and personal projects, using MIT resources.

    A friend of mine recently started a program to educate locals in Ecuador about micro-enterprise, using MIT’s money from the Public Service Center (PSC).

    One word: Awesome.

  12. G '10 says:

    Tammay ’12,

    I’m course 16. I’m currently currently working at NASA Langley Research Center investigating alternative architectures for Project Constellation (going back to the moon). I’m also getting my private pilot certification at Langley Air Force Base (It’s awesome! F-22s and F-15s everywhere!)

  13. current '11 says:

    nice post Paul.

  14. Hey there!
    Nice post.At the beginning of my college preparation, I had read that some MITian had said that life at MIT is dull(I read this in a college guide), and it had made me apprehensive as to what kind of people are MITians.Anyways turns out my fears were meaningless.

    A few questions, if someone answers them…

    1.What exactly are UROPs?I know that they are some research thing, but being from a foreign country, I really don’t know the meaning of UROP.

    2.What are these course numbers?Are they some code for the name of the courses?Or are they something else?

    3.Will you please answer my questions?

    4.If the answer above is yes, then why haven’t you started answering it?

    5.Are you still reading?You’re not supposed to you know…

    6.Did you notice that I had mispelt the word bieng in the third line?

    7.Did you actually check that I had misplet ?? lolz….

    PlZ answer questions 1,2 & 7(the rest are optional :D )

    Im gonna watch 21 tommorrow…heard it’s great.

  15. Lolz i really mispelt mispelt in the 7th question.
    Not on purpose.Nice coincidence.

  16. marco says:

    I’m glad to see many wonderful ideas.I feel I must do something.

  17. Kathleen '10 says:

    The D in D-Lab actually stands for ‘Development’, I believe, and it is an AWESOME course. And it just became a HASS elective, too, so you have no excuse to not take it. Except you froshies will have to wait until your sophomore year smile But seriously, you get to go to another country and learn/do projects over IAP as part of the course, and it’s an amazing experience. And if you want to get an early start, 16.A48, a new 6-unit seminar that I’m hopefully TA-ing, is an introduction to thinking about international development with a more local project.

  18. Chris M '12 says:

    Saket, here are some answers.. hopefully I don’t get deleted for having too many hyperlinks.

    1) UROP = Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, basically MIT undegrads can work with professors on research projects. Website:

    2) The course numbers are in this format: [Department #].[Course #]. For a list of the department numbers (and all the courses…), go:

    3) No. (Ooh, Paradox!)

    4) Lo siento, no hablo ingles.

    5) Hey, you know what? I’m tired of answering your questions!

    6) Why don’t you answer some of mine you upstart punk?!…err, whatever, you’d probably just be sarcastic or something.

    7) Seriously, if you notice you made a mistake while pointing out a mistake, just leave it next time. People will think you were being clever and witty. Except that you kinda were clever and witty because you misspelled it wrong in the 6th question.

    I noticed that, bieng the studious student taht I am.

    A senior who is only somewhat depressed to be a freshman again.

  19. Wenjun Liu says:

    Thanks a lot,Paul.It’s great to find out differences between the US and China.Amazing!

    I noticed that Erik Fogg said he would be in China this summer.And a few weeks ago,on May 12,there’s been a terrible earthquake. He’s all right?A little worried about it.

    Hope everything goes well.

  20. Wenjun Liu says:

    P.S.:The quake affected a wide range, and aftershocks continue.It’s really a disaster

  21. Yeah really depressing quake.What saddens me more than the deaths is the number of people rendered homeless.

  22. Hmmm….. Thanx for the Chris M’ it helped, not to mention the fact that you really answered all of my questions :D

    As to why I told everybody that i really mispelt mispelt was to point out the amazing coincidence of having mispelt “mispelt”.
    And I like being a bit honest. smile

    Anyways,have a good day.

  23. nice to know what MITians do in summer..
    Good luck to all


  24. Paul says:

    Wenjun, thanks for your concern. Erik wasn’t in China at the time fortunately – though, as Saket said, the devastation was pretty disheartening. Lulu mentioned it in her blog, and a group of MIT students mobilized to solicit donations for relief as well.

  25. Dan Chou says:

    Hi Paul,
    Thank you!I’m a Chinese college student,Freshman(before the summar).My plan is having a vocation with my mum,and doing something for my father(long time no see).You give me a good chance to know students in your school how to spend their summar.Pretty good!
    Have a nice holiday!

  26. Wenjun Liu says:

    Love is borderless and that’s a real relief.We share one name,say,human beings.Thanks for all.
    I’ll spend my days volunteering after our final exam on July 3rd.
    Things will be better soon.