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MIT student blogger Maggie L. '12

Spaghettuna and Lego aircraft by Maggie L. '12

If my first week of IAP is any indication of how 2011 will treat me, it's going to be a good year!

IAP has finally started, so that means my grocery bill is much larger than usual.

I’m reigniting my IAP resolution to cook dinner for myself for every night in January. During the semester, I usually grab dinner at a dining hall, but now that I have the time to let out my inner Iron Chef, I’m dusting off the cookbooks and asking mom for advice. I was quite pleased with my culinary accomplishments last IAP, so I’m excited to give it another try.

First meal? Spaghettuna. You heard right. Spaghetti + tuna in red sauce = spaghettuna. I told my sister and her text message reply read, “Mmmm speghatuuuuuna :).” We don’t even agree on the spelling, but we know what it is. It’s very easy to make, but I realize the name can be a turn-off. I guess I’m just used to it by now; you see, I’ve come to understand that the Lloyd clan has its own vernacular.

For example, I have no idea what this is called.

I honestly don’t because my family calls them yadda-yaddees. Also, one time, while talking on live local television, my dad mentioned the word “fridgey” when referring to a refrigerator. The news anchor immediately interrupted to ask, “Did you just say fridgey?!”

Apparently my family relies on vague onomatopoeia and unique contractions to refer to everything, and it’s taken me two decades to realize no one else uses these terms.

The Lloyds are also prone to distractions. Where was I? Oh yes, IAP activities. Several MIT activities, such as athletics and UROPs, are in full swing, and the GEL Program is no exception.

Last week I pretty much lived in the Stata Center while taking ESD.950: “Engineering Leadership.” About 40 GELs participated in class discussions, worked in table groups, and reflected on some of the capabilities that define an engineering leader.

We worked under time pressure

We organized our thoughts

We created a fleet of Lego aircraft as part of a simulation based on Toyota Production System’s operations

Needless to say, it was an action-packed week, and I’m interested to hear your opinions on some of the topics we covered:

• What are some misconceptions people have about leadership?
• How would you define leadership? (hint: this is harder than you think!)
• Which is a more favorable condition to find yourself in: a bad team with a good idea or a good team with a bad idea?

There’s another GEL class on Project Management in late January (a five-day intensive off-site class in New Hampshire), and UPOP, the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, starts this week.

UPOP is the preferred prerequisite for GEL because it teaches sophomores, who are just starting their engineering careers, everything from effective group work to proper interview etiquette. Although it’s a year-long program, UPOP culminates in a very intense one-week workshop.

I loved UPOP because it provided so many resources and linked me to UPOP staff willing to help me find an internship for the summer or look over my resume, all without “holding my hand” through the process.

But while I was in UPOP, I had a hard time realizing the significance of some of our assignments (for example, a journal during a summer internship and an interview with a mentor) and found them tedious. I realize that I now have a record from my early years in career development, and I can easily trace improvements and challenges I consistently face. UPOP is a time commitment, but its rewards will eventually come.

Which brings me to my final note about IAP. Today, the application for the 2011-2012 GEL Year One Program goes live. The application is very simple—doesn’t take long to complete—and like my time in UPOP, the application provides a “real-time” look at where a student is in his/her development as a leader.

Although the GEL Year One program is open to current MIT sophomores and juniors (as well as seniors in M. Eng. programs), over the next few weeks you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look from yours truly at the inner workings of the GEL admissions process; it’ll be interesting for young undergrads to see how the program considers each application. I’ve always wondered what the GEL staff looks for in its students, so this will be a learning experience for me, too!

12 responses to “Spaghettuna and Lego aircraft”

  1. anon says:

    Would love to hear what you decided about this one: Which is a more favorable condition to find yourself in: a bad team with a good idea or a good team with a bad idea?

  2. allyee says:

    we often forget that leaders are meant to serve to to be served

  3. Worgus says:

    the individuals in the team are more important than the idea. great minds would be able to transform a bad idea into an ingenius one. a good idea is useless to the bad team. So i’ll go for the good team.

  4. Yulduz says:

    • Which is a more favorable condition to find yourself in: a bad team with a good idea or a good team with a bad idea?

    -option 2, because a GOOD team will sooner or later(after the GOOD research and accurately and precisely conducted experiments) realize that idea is bad and will either ‘reshape’ the bad idea or switch to working on something better.
    Good sculptor can create a masterpiece of nearly every type of mud. (however, i do not recommend to work with bad ideas, as it can rarely have any good implications)

    P.S.my dad does the same, sometimes he uses Russian prefixes with Tajik words. )

  5. Morteza says:

    • Most people thinks leaders gave orders but a good leader put things in such a way that people do what s/he wants willingly.

    • In my idea we can define what isn’t leadership but can’t define what is leadership.

    • First one. The main goal is to enhance society (i.e. people) not ideas. We can improve the team (for example by training them). Ideas are for people, people aren’t for ideas.

  6. Leia says:

    it’s like the flow chart from hell…

  7. mag says:

    It seems that our class agreed with Wargus and Yulduz because we felt that a good team wouldn’t settle for a bad idea and then would be motivated to make it not only good, but GREAT. But one could argue for the other option, as Morteza did quite effectively, if I might add.

    Morteza, you hit on a very important point that leadership is a reciprocal process that involves the whole group. We learned that this is where leadership differs from management. The class had a working definition of leadership for the week (it involved the words “reciprocal” and “group”) but you could ask another leadership program at another college and I’m sure it would be a different answer. It’s kind of like tips for “how to give a good presentation.” There’s no universal law, but you know a bad presentation when you see it, and you definitely can sense an ineffective leader when you work with one.

  8. Phoebe says:

    being a leader is not about the person in the leadership position but about the group; a leader cannot say, what do i want to accomplish, they have to say, what do i need to do in order for the group to accomplish what it wants to?

  9. Morteza says:

    @maggie: “It’s kind of like tips for “how to give a good presentation.” There’s no universal law, but you know a bad presentation when you see it, and you definitely can sense an ineffective leader when you work with one.”
    This is why I said we can define what isn’t leadership but can’t define what it is.

    I choose the first because some of my leadership experiences in NODET. As I think now I found out that “Good” or “Bad” words are vague here. Good in what? Talent, Co-op, Moral or Integrity
    In my idea talent should be at the end of the list of consideration since it can be substituted easily.

  10. John '15 says:

    We eat “Spaghettuna” in my family too!!!

  11. Worgus says:

    We also eat “Spaghettuna”, nearly every friday. It almost a tradition.