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MIT student blogger Chris M. '12

TERMinal Velocity by Chris M. '12

My last term is flying by!

Hard to believe but my time at the institute is starting to wrap up. I’ll save the sappy gushing for a later post though. Most people’s last terms are comparatively lighter, with lots of time to focus on all sorts of projects.

I, for better and worse, am not most people. My term is the heaviest one yet for me, both in terms of academics and non. So lets take a peek into my day:


6.002x (Circuits and Electronics)

One of MITs pilot online courses for their new high-quality online learning initiative, MITx, 6.002x is actually open to the world for registration. You could all take it with me if you wanted to (and you should! It’s fantastic). The kicker is classes for the rest of the world start first week in March, and ours have been going since the beginning of February, so we’ll stay 4 weeks ahead to blaze the trail, stomping bugs, talking about ways the class can be improved, and generally preparing it for mass consumption. The class itself is all about circuit design, op-amps, and all that jazz (and confession, I’ve actually taken most of it once before I dropped it), but the best part is that there’s a roughly 1.2:1 ratio of instructors to students in the program, including some of the coolest names in education and MIT like Agant Agarwal, the director of CSAIL. Plus since we’re a small group working collaboratively, our physical meetings on Tues and Thurs serve lunch. Which is a great bonus.


6.041 (Statistics and Probability)

Another class in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department, 6.041 focuses on thinking about probability. Probability is really the foundation of a lot of analysis in EECS. Artificial Intelligence? Probability. Network management? Probability. Error handling in hardware? Probability. So far it’s been pretty interesting for me, except for my recitation section, but maybe it’ll pick up. Not much to say really, math is math.


2.744 (Product Design)

2.744 is the grad class follow-up to 2.009. 2.009 introduces you to how products are made and gives an hands-on experience doing it from start to finish, and 2.744 elaborates on that design part. We talk about what constitutes good design, and the whole thing culminates in a term-long team project with a theme. This year’s theme is “Eco friendly office of the future” and is sponsored in part by Staples. If anyone makes a particulalry great product, there’s a real opportunity for it to become an actual product for Staples. 2.744 is taught by Prof. David Wallace, who is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. He also teaches 2.00B “Toy Design” and 2.009, and he is constantly working for each of those classes.


21A.100 (Intro to Anthropology)

Anthropology is my HASS Concentration, which as part of the HASS requirement means I’m taking 3 classes under the Anthropology department. 21A.100 is an absolutely fascinating class, and it’s in no small part because Prof. Graham Jones is a super engaging person to listen to. He’s also a magician. Not kidding. His field of anthropological study is in magic, and why people keep secrets. The class itself is a great way for me to travel all over the world and through time learning about different cultures and how they change, all without leaving MIT.


21A.340 (Technology and Culture)

Another class for my concentration, 21A.340 looks specifically at technology and how it affects culture. From surveillance to genetically modified crops to health science to the internet, the impact of technology on the way people behave is pretty interesting to think about. The class itself meets just once a week, so that fits nicely in my crazy schedule.


21A.342 (Environmental Struggles)

The final class in my concentration focuses on the effect of environmental change and culture, and how science ties into all of it. So far we’ve just been talking about global warming, but the format is essentially a forum. We all come to class and just talk about the issues brought up in our readings and viewings for a few hours, and of course write a few papers. I really like the discussion aspect. It’s interesting to hear all the different issues people address, and seeing how different just 25 people in the class interpret and understand things makes it easy to understand how the world is so complex.



In addition to all those classes, I’m helping students in 2.007 build robots, and wrapping up some loose ends from other classes, and finding some place for PE credit (climbing again? don’t mind if I do!) It pretty much keeps me constantly busy, but I’m also really enjoying it so far. I’m more productive when I have a lot to do.



There’s one more thing I’m working on this term, and it’s the biggest and most exciting project I’ve ever been involved with. I’m really eager to tell you all about it, but I can’t just yet. Very soon though….very soon…

9 responses to “TERMinal Velocity”

  1. Christi says:

    To get a HASS concentration you only have to take three courses? I would’ve thought it’d be more! That’s kinda cool though, certainly interesting to study.

  2. Chris M. '12 says:


    It depends on the concentration, but usually its 3-4 classes.

  3. Abderhman A. Abuhashem says:

    It’s really hard to leave a such place … My brother who’s MIT senior feel the same ….

  4. Dialga says:

    Oh my goodness, has hell frozen over? Did Chris Peterson just follow punctuation rules? Did he just capitalize the first “I”, did he just end his sentence with a period?

    Sorry for the hyperbole, but wow. :D

  5. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    I can’t believe it’s your last term either man.

  6. Alpha says:

    Hey so I had a question about 6.002. How much of previous background in physics would you need to take it? I’m considering it but haven’t taken AP Physics yet, but I am in Calculus anyways and think i could handle the math. How much do you think it needs?

    Also, the Technology and culture class seems awesome. So does product design.


  7. M.SB. says:

    See you in 6.002x!


  8. Adarsh says:

    @Dialga : Umm. I’m afraid you lost me there. Doesn’t Chris always follow punctuation rules? I mean, look at this


    Every comment starts with a capital letter and ends with a period.

    Or, did I miss something? Somebody please explain or, I’ll have sleepless nights! raspberry

  9. M.SB. says:

    Adarsh, Chris is probably a dimension-jumping space traveler who finds his time warps hindered by his age-old arch nemesis, Punctuation Supreme Evangelion IX.

    Either that, or Chris is an undiscovered ASCII-art prodigy who’s been producing BBS intro screens since the dial-up days and has, in turn, worn out the punctuation-related keys on his keyboard while making pretty canvases of characters.