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MIT student blogger Natnael G. '15

A Summer to Remember – Interphase by Natnael G. '15

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institvte!

Summer Vacation – /ˈsəmər/ /vāˈkāSHən/

Defined as the period between grades where life is at its best. Where one stays up until 4am, not out of necessity but out of enjoyment, and wakes up when it can no longer be considered morning. Summer is a time for pools, Pokemon, and playing in no particular order.

While my last summer was spent cooped up in a cubicle for 40 hours a week, I never lost that boyish charm when it comes to the two and half month periods that defined my childhood. For the first time in three years I didn’t have a book to read, a paper to write or a set of problems to get started. But for the first time in three years I genuinely wanted something to do.  MIT is no walk in the park and I wanted an opportunity to preview the material, get study habits down and start college life early. The answer? The Interphase Program.


So what is Interphase? According to the OME’s Website “Interphase is a rigorous seven-week summer residential, academic and community-building program for admitted MIT freshmen that instills subject mastery of calculus, physics and chemistry, and helps them explore their cultural identities through reading, writing and discussion.” but I find this definition is lacking in a few places (like, when they say rigorous they neither joke nor kid). So to fully describe Interphase, I have to break it up into three categories “The Academics”, “The Exposure” and “The Fun”.

The Academics

Academics during Interphase is broken up into four classes that are supposed to model your first semester at MIT, Calculus, Chemistry, Humanities (Writing), and Physics. Your Calculus and Chemistry classes are then also broken up into sections. Calculus had three sections that model 18.01(Single Variable Calculus), 18.01A(Accelerated Single Variable Calculus), and 18.02(Multi Variable Calculus)  while Chemistry had two sections that model 5.111 and 5.112.

I was in Calculus 2(18.01A), Chemistry 1(5.111), Physics(8.01), and Humanities(21W.XXX), so I’ll take you through a day in the life of an Interphaser.




Last day of Physics


Taught by Dr. Eric Hudson, a past 8.01 teacher and one of the best lecturers I’ve ever met, Physics started the week off at 9:30, bright and early. This was the one class that was in a large lecture hall (54-100) and had everyone in Interphase together. We sat in groups of  two and learned in a style similar to that of TEAL(Technology Enabled Active Learning). While there weren’t weekly experiments, clicker questions and demonstrations were the norm. We also had four wonderful teaching assistants who made understanding the material a walk in the park and who took two days out of the week, and a few evenings, to translate the foreign language that was lecture.


Calculus 2

Calculus 2 with Chris Dodd


Taught by Dr. Chris Dodd ’11, PhD in Mathematics at MIT, Calculus 2 was also known as PROVE ALL THE THINGS. Following an intense session of Physics, Calculus 2 never ceased to turn your world upside down. Thought you knew Riemann sums, spent a few months on Taylor Series, a master of integration? Think again. Chris Dodd was the first person to give me that “this is MIT” feeling. Genuinely proving every concept he wrote on the board (including the Law of Exponentials) I can’t imagine learning math any other way. In true MIT fashion, Calculus 2 taught you math from the ground up and thoroughly kicked our butts on that path. But thanks to two amazing TAs, life was made bearable and math was made fun.


Chemistry 1


Taught by ESG‘s(Experimental Study Group) own Dr. Patti Christie, PhD in Chemistry at MIT, Chemistry was one of my favorite classes. As someone who came into MIT with nearly no background in the topic (I think we got up to naming?), this was the class I feared the most.  Learning from one of the best teachers I have ever had, Chemistry took on a whole new meaning. Finding enjoyment in the daily “CLICKER QUESTIONS” and gaining a new found  respect for the macroscopic world, the GIR I was destined to hate became my favorite.




Taught by Dr. Steven Strang, Director of the Writing and Communication Center here at MIT, Humanities was a place to discuss different topics and see how people’s cultural differences shined through in their opinions. Dr. Strang also teaches 21W.754 (Rhetoric) and our humanity class had a large emphasis on teaching us Aristotle’s Art. We learned how to weave words to do our bidding and analyze articles to avoid manipulation.


The Exposure

One of the largest parts of Interphase that leaves all of its attendees better off for MIT is what I would call “exposure”. Exposure to 10+ companies at a miniature career fair, exposure to MIT’s UROP and Internship opportunities at a Lab Tour, exposure to the resources that would benefit our lives here at MIT (eg. S^3), and exposure to the faculty (including Chancellor Eric Grimson whose 6.00 Lectures made CS fun for me).  These study breaks and trips were a great wealth of knowledge that opened up my eyes to the multitude of opportunities MIT has.

The Fun

The last part of Interphase, it was also one of the most powerful. With dozens of late nights, it was “Mandatory Fun” and the new people we met that kept us sane. In true MIT style we worked hard and played hard.

Now, I could describe the fun that was had in words, but there’s no fun in that. So here’s the “fun” of Interphase through pictures and videos, make sure to read the alt-tags! (Picture Credit to Teri O. ’15 & Mari K. ’15)


A nice little trip down to Harvard

Every spare second was potential sleep time.

Color coordination, we do it hard.

The Cave, where the four of us could be found 98.35% of the time.The Interphase Talent Show, a time for extreme fun

Epic Meal Time, Interphase Version.Maury, Interphase Version. Context is hard to include, but, it was hilarious.Interphase-MITES Sports ChallengeVectors, they get to you.


And there you go. Interphase in a Nutshell. The Office of Minority Education is providing 70 MIT Students a year an invaluable experience and I recommend everyone apply. Interphase was both the hardest and most rewarding summer of my life and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

12 responses to “A Summer to Remember – Interphase”

  1. Qingqian Ning says:

    or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Institvte!
    Haha, I just found a typo on your page. It’s institute not institvte.

  2. Whoa! Now that was exciting!! No words!

  3. Anonymous '14 says:

    IP 10 > IP 11 Just saying guys… just because of the Interphase vs MITES of this year and because we were a much better class =]

  4. Anonymous '14 #2 says:

    The TA’s really enjoyed you guys this year!! But I must agree with the previous comment that IP10>IP11!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    correction, 69 students raspberry

  6. anonymous says:

    MITES 2011 beat you guys, your “We win because we’re in” poster turned out to not be so true

  7. This goes out to all the current students. When you applied, how optimistic were you?

  8. AJG says:

    Amazing article, Nate. Also I just noticed that we had the exact same clases; go figure.
    IP ’11 is one of the best summers of my life. Swag.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Loved the article, Natti. From what I’ve heard, Interphase seems like it was a great and an enjoyable program! Looks like a lot of fun! Can’t wait to read more!

  10. Teri says:

    Thanks for using my pictures!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    This was a great article, and IP11 was obviously better than IP10. It’s nice to see so much Interphase love in one place. Interphase was basically boot camp for MIT, no joke. Can’t wait to read the rest of your articles Natnael, you are my hero.

  12. Natnael G. '15 says:

    Thanks Raj!

    @Qingqian It was actually a reference to how MIT spells it on their buildings. (See here )

    @Ip11/10 people, no need to fight, all Interphase years are great =).