Thursday night was my first Central Meeting of the year. Not only did it conflict with the season premiere of Ben‘s favorite show, The O.C., but my meeting was actually in Orange County (well, Orlando/Winter Park, Orange County, Florida… though I will be holding a meeting in the “real” O.C. on September 28th).
My visit to Orlando, by the numbers:
- Number of hurricanes dodged: 1
- Meals eaten at Columbia restaurant: 1
- Number of intriguing yet controversial New Urbanist communities visited: 1
- Total Central Meeting attendance: ~230
- Number of chairs: ~180
- Number of Educational Counselors (ECs) in attendance: 8
- Number of questions asked about internship opportunities: 2
- Number of questions about SAT scores: 0
While driving in the car yesterday, I heard MIT Civil & Environmental Engineering professor Rafael Bras on the radio talking about levees and floodgates. He is doing very interesting work in a city with similar geographic traits to New Orleans, Venice. A quick Google news search produced a recent New York Times article as well:
Bras says sensor technologies for detecting levee failure hold much promise. But he adds that less glamorous approaches, like regular maintenance, may be even more valuable, since prevention is always the best cure. “We have to learn that things have to be reviewed, revised, maintained and repaired as needed,” he said. “To see a city like New Orleans suffer such devastation–some of that was preventable.” He added that no matter how ambitious the coastal engineering, no matter how innovative and well maintained, the systems of levees, seawalls and floodgates were likely to suffer sporadic failures. “Nature will throw big things at us once in a while,” he said. “There’s always the possibility that nature will trump us.”
Also while perusing the news on the Web, I came across an article in today’s Boston Globe about Boston-area colleges, including MIT, admitting students displaced by Katrina. Two students from Tulane University who will be at MIT this semester were quoted:
Natalia Gorgach, 20, an electrical engineering and mathematics major at Tulane University who will attend MIT this fall, said the pressure will be to make sure she takes advantage of her new school’s resources. ”I just want to make the most of it,” she said.
To hear the displaced students tell it, school is school, rarefied or not, and so they expect to compete on equal footing with their peers. ”Just because we got in under special circumstances doesn’t mean we won’t be able to do good things,” said Dorothy Hernandez, 20, a native of New Orleans who studied architecture at Tulane University and will attend MIT for the semester. ”I am a bit intimidated, but it’s real people and real classes and Tulane has prepared me well.”
I’m glad we’ve been able to help out with the Katrina relief efforts.
Today at 4pm is my second Central Meeting of the year, in West Palm Beach, and tomorrow is meeting #3 in South Miami at 11am. A full list of meetings can be found here. And with that, I’m off to West Palm Beach, maybe I’ll see you there!