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MIT student blogger Snively '11

This is the end by Snively '11

I couldn‘t decide whether to put "They‘re beautiful, aren‘t they? The stars" here, or to put "Brigham Young, his nose was a clitoris. What will you do Joseph, will you fight the clitoris man?" so I've decided to put both.

INTRO

First things first, I have to post this, as promised in an earlier blog entry:

What could this possibly mean? It means I’ve graduated!!! Holy smokes, four years of MIT and now it’s over. It seems like it goes so fast, how could it be over? Then you think about specific moment, all of the episodes, and you realize that it didn’t go fast, that it took just as long as anything else takes because there’s no way to slow or quicken the progression of time. So here we are, four years from when I started, and I get to look back at all I’ve done. Not gonna lie, sometimes it’s hard to remember (not because the moments are painful, just because they were a long time ago and I’m getting old), and all these blog entries I’ve got archived here are an awesome way to reminisce.

Ups and Downs

It started on my personal blog with this, admittedly, super tooly entry. It’s amazing to compare how I act and write now with some of my earlier entries, both in my personal blog and MIT blog. MIT has certainly calmed me down, added a slight glaze to my eyes, and made me demand more than just trivial occurrences to get me excited (“Oh, math joke, not funny”). For better or for worse, I’m a different person now than I was when I got here. How much of that is MIT related and how much of that is general maturation related we may never know, but I know that it’s certainly due to both.

Apart from aging me a bit, MIT has also done its best to shove every bit of knowledge it could into my relatively small brain (relatively small compared to many of my classmates). I came into MIT with very little knowledge about anything they were about to teach me. In fact, everything I learned here was new except for vectors. I dominated the first 3 weeks of 18.02 because of a pre-existing knowledge of vectors. After that, everything was completely new, and there was a lot. At MIT I learned how to machine, prototype, design, sketch, how to do mechanics and select materials, how to to define dynamic systems and control them, I learned more about thermal fluids than I thought existed, I learned Matlab and MathCAD, learned how to design circuit boards and how to surface mount solder, discovered a budding love of literature, and saw/experienced more events than I could have imagined.

All the learning and amazing experiences were certainly countered by a lot of negativity, to be sure. One tends to start getting disillusioned here, everything stops seeming so Utopian and begins feeling more routine. So what if this guy invented that? Oh look, a unicycle, meh. Killian court turns into a big piece of lawn, Stata becomes ugly instead of awesome, and lectures turn into a chore instead of an exciting opportunity for learning. This does not apply to everybody, of course, I’m just telling you about my experiences. One of the things that gets me most is how MIT seemed to take all of the things I used in my application to get into this school (marching band, speech team, building things in my free time, etc) and managed to remove all the time I had to do those things. MIT took away all the things it wanted me for because of the crushing amount of working. Just sitting and doing nothing during my free time became a very appealing notion, something that rarely happened before MIT.

In the end, I’m glad I came here, absolutely. I learned so much about both myself, engineering, and life. Plus, I mean, really, look at this thing.

Totally worth it. So what now? You haven’t heard much from me in the last year or so, let me fill you in!

The Past Year

Last summer I worked Analog Devices Inc and, while I learned a lot, I discovered that electrical engineering was not my thing. That’s ok, that’s what internships are for! I also biked to work every day, 16.5 miles each way, and lost 40 pounds. I am the champion of the “stop eating and exercise a lot” diet!

This last school year was divided into two pretty distinctly different semesters, the “work my butt off” semester and the “be as lazy as possible/thesis” semester. The first semester was dedicated to 2.009, the capstone MechE class that gives teams of 20 a semester to design and build some product, in my team’s case a fleet of robots that delivers sushi to waiting patrons. I was the “System Integrator” for the team which pretty much required me to glue my phone to my ear and stop sleeping.

Between semesters, during IAP in January, I did an unpaid externship at 5W!TS Productions (more about that later).

Second semester is when, just like high school, senioritis hit. Second semester I cranked through Atlas Shrugged, beat Plants vs. Zombies as thoroughly as humanly possible, began the epic adventure that is Minecraft, wrote a 100+ page thesis, and graduated!

January

So, January, that was a good month! Back in September I visited a place called 5W!TS and fell in love.

They had a walk-through adventure game, somewhat like a real-life video game, that had me crawling through lasers and ventilations ducts, cracking safes, defusing bombs, and debugging rooms. It was a MechE wonderland! I was as fascinated by the adventure as I was by the technical details behind all of it. I awkwardly and giddily started asking every question I could come up with. As it turns out, the CEO was an MIT alum with close ties to MIT’s Toy Design Class and its teaching staff. I was bouncing with excitement for the entire bus ride back to campus. The next day I e-mailed the CEO and asked if I could work there in January. The email said something along the lines of “I don’t know if I’m correct in emailing the CEO to ask for an internship, but can I have one?” The answer was yes and lemme tell you, it was AWESOME! I spent the month helping to finish their 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea game. In other words, I helped build the Nautilus. I modified hundred-year-old Edison Wax Cylinder players, built governors for the engine room, and wired up the fuel rod receptacle. I helped turn this

into this

In addition to its two games (Espionage and 20k), 5W!TS does production and effects work for museums. You know all those neat interactives and demos you see at science museums? Yeah, they build those things (AWESOME!). As it turns out, over the last year or so, I began realizing that I didn’t want to be a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineers tend to design and engineer but then ship off designs for fabrication. I wanted to build things! I wanted to design, build, use, and move on. I didn’t want to work on one small insignificant part of a 10 year project, I wanted to be a part of each project from beginning to end and help with all of the phases. 5W!TS allows that to happen, with just 9 people doing the brainstorming, designing, and building for 2-3 month projects. After January was over and after I received several grad school rejections (not so important after discovering 5W!TS) I accepted a full time position at 5W!TS, where I have now just finished my second week. I’m moving into my first apartment on July 1st, have a new car (bet with my parents I made in 5th grade, they said they’d get me a harley if I graduated from MIT. I accepted a car instead.), and am about to start real life. Crazy? Crazy!

This is all exciting, but let’s talk a bit more about commencement and the end of the semester, that’s exciting too!

Commencement

At MIT, and probably other colleges as well, mortarboard decorations are a staple of any good commencement. A week or so before the ceremony my friend Pall posted something on my facebook wall

HELL YEAH! Fast forward to staging before the march to Killian

I ended up with the blue portal and the front half of the beaver. It was super awesome. Even President Hockfield thought it was pretty rockin’

On a quick side note, I’m pretty sure these two professors were playing Angry Birds during the whole ceremony

At the end of the 2.5 hour long name-reading extravaganza I headed over to the MechE reception for food, free coffee cups, and pictures. Awwww

By the end of the day I was exhausted and ended up just laying on the couch playing Minecraft. A good end to a good day, the official conclusion of four years at the ‘tute.

Toast to Tech
MIT held a MASSIVE celebration a day or two after commencement to cap off the MIT150 celebration in a grand fashion. Grand. Like, most lavish thing I’ve seen at MIT in the four years I’ve been here. I’ll let the pictures I took speak for themselves.

Dome

Dome

MIT Seal Ice Sculpture

Beaver Ice Sculpture

MIT Ice Sculpture

The Prudential Building Celebrates With Us

The Stage

This next bit needs an explanation. MIT sprang for a 750 pound cake, or suite of cakes. It was amazing, check it out!

Stata

Simmons

Dome and Green Building

Tim Flopped on the Bridge (reminds me of this)

Cupcake River

A special shout-out to the Hernley family for adopting me that evening and letting me pal around with you, it was great fun.

Blogging

To conclude, I want to talk a little about the relationship I have with these blogs.

No cliches, no sappy messages, no speeches. Read any of my blog entries and you’ll see that my role on these blogs isn’t to fit in and publish what everybody else is publishing. Nor is it to publish what people think I should publish. No, when I got hired to be an MIT admissions blogger, second semester of freshman year, I made it my goal to blog about all the things you would NOT expect to see on an admissions website. I wanted to share all of the things MIT hides from prospective students and all of the things you’d never find out about unless you were here.

I blogged about hot dogs, bathrooms, thongs from VS, bad experiences with physics professors, wrote the first entry ever removed from the blogs (so they say) and ended up in Matt McGann’s office more than once. I made admissions enforce their censorship-free stance many a time in an effort to bring the really nitty gritty parts of MIT to the blogs, the parts that aren’t so pretty, the parts MIT doesn’t want you to know. I loved this about my job because, while generally an amazing place, MIT is not a perfect place, and making sure applicants know this adds a degree of believability and credibility to both the school and the admissions blogs. My favorite blog-related quote came from Ben Jones, MIT’s ex-communications guru. He came up to me one day after a particularly brutal entry and said “Snively, in the four months you’ve been blogging here we’ve received more complaints from faculty and deans about your entries than we’ve received about all of the entries ever published in the last four years.”

I took that to mean I was doing my job right ;)

The nice emails from parents, from prospective students, the comments on the entries themselves, the random encounters during campus tours and CPW, and all of the kind words in whatever form or fashion they reached me in meant a lot. Ok, it was creepy sometimes, and usually pretty awkward, but looking back it’s nice to know that I was able to help the number of people I did.

When you write an entry and push it to the site you forget how many people read them. There are the prospective students, of course, but also current students. Then there are the parents of prospective students, and the parents of current students. I got a comment once from a parent, thanking me for blogging about physics because their son didn’t call as often as they’d like him to. By reading my blogs they were able to see what his classes were like. Not only students, prospective students, and parents, but faculty members also read these blogs. More than once have I shown up for the first day of class and had a faculty member already know who I am . . . or at least know the Internet version of me. More than once, in a class (usually a smaller class, to be fair), a professor has mentioned or referenced something about me that they’ve read here.

But it even goes farther than that. I met President Susan Hockfield for the first time at a Christmas reception and before I even had a chance to introduce myself I heard her yell “SNIVELY!” when she saw me and then beckon me over, proceeding then to scold me for not saying hi when I saw her walking down Vassar Street. Yes, even MIT’s president reads these blogs.

These blogs are important and their aim is true. Admissions really does want the outside world to see the raw and unedited side of this school through the eyes of current students. Anytime you find yourself reading them and thinking “Hm, this all seems staged” or “The admissions office is feeding them stuff,” know that you’re mistaken. Â Anything is fair game so long as you have bloggers that are willing to stick their neck out and attract the negative attention that comes along with sharing the smaller and more controversial aspects of MIT. And really, that’s what I’d come to the blogs to see, because that’s the good stuff!

So that’s me, and I’m all done! No more blogs, no more MIT. I’m moving on and its been a wild ride. Thanks for everything everybody, it’s been awesome!

19 responses to “This is the end”

  1. Hakker says:

    Congratulations Snively – What the? Holy…! Damn is that all edible?

    I’ll miss you.

  2. I could feel the whole nostalgia while reading this. And, omg, the portal hat was EPIC. Live long and prosper, Snively.

  3. Bhaskar says:

    @Snively Great post..And congrats for your job,new apartment and car..

  4. That cake and those ice sculptures are so epic.

  5. Ammar'14 says:

    How the years go by!
    I’m really going to miss your posts. Actually I’ve missed them for a while now, and every time I see an admission blogs update I rollover on the nice blue button up there and go “oh right, he’s a senior”.
    damn, I’m feeling old already.

    5W!ts seems like the kind of awesome place I’d expect you to be, good luck!

    Goodbye Snively!

  6. Katie '15 says:

    It’s been a pleasure reading your blog! Good luck with everything. Sounds like you have a pretty nifty life lined up smile

  7. Phoenix says:

    Hi Snively,
    Congrats for your graduation. You will be missed, A LOT.
    You knw what, a little while ago I was just browsing away, when I felt a sensation of pee building up in groins. I was about to make the trip to toilet when I saw there was a new blog by you. And I was like “Oh, new blog by Snively. Ok, blog reading first, peeing later.” By the time I finished reading, the pressure had built up considerably.
    Anyway I just wanted to say u this- “Snively, You Are a MIT Legend.”
    Now I got that outta way, I need to run to bathroom, real bad. Toodles..smile

  8. SR '15 says:

    Thank you for all your blogs! Congrats on graduating! (: Oh, i also remember randomly saying Hi to you during CPW at BC wink

  9. Glad to see you posted one last entry to wrap up your years at MIT – here’s to a great 4 years!

  10. MIT '11 says:

    From a fellow MIT ’11 classmate, it’s been an enjoyable 4 years reading your blogs and hearing your perspective on MIT. I think we all agree it’s a place with its ups and downs, with the ups leaving the downs just plain negligible. We’ve always been so glad and excited about being incredibly privileged to attend and enjoy the special institution that is MIT. Best. Place. Ever.

  11. Jason says:

    @Phoenix: Lol!
    Snively, consider this as a new testimonial to your blog-writing skills. Your blog can make someone hold their pee;)

  12. Shreya says:

    I started reading MIT blogs around four years ago, in Grade 9, and yours was the first one that I read. Your MIT journey comes to a close along with my applying to colleges one, and I just want you to know what a tremendous inspiration your blogposts have provided to me. Thank you for making me love all the things that MIT stands for smile I wish you luck with your life after college and I truly hope that you’ll do wonders with your love for machines, and your infectious enthusiasm.

    Love,
    Your Greatest Fan EVER. (And that’s coz I’ve read and loved every single entry on your personal blog too raspberry)

  13. Mae says:

    Wait! You forgot to mention high school counselors! Yeah, we read the blogs, too and WOW! are we going to miss this one. There are 1000’s of us. Got recommendations for a replacement blogger????

  14. rfong'12 says:

    LOVE YOUR BEAVER

    congrats!

  15. All the best at 5W!TS, Snively! And thank you for bringing MIT to life for so many of us. Shall miss you tremendously.

    Lots of love,
    Lavender Country

  16. Good luck Michael! We really enjoyed your blogs throughout the 4 years! With your outlook, you’ll go far.

  17. Sohaib says:

    Please tell Pall Kornmayer that he is a genius (well everyone who goes to MIT represents a top percentile of intelligence of this world so everyone there was a genius, but Pall’s idea was epic). And what makes it more awesome is that President Hockfield liked it as well.
    The cake looks amazing. Stata, Kresge and Simmons look just perfect.
    eeeek. Senioritis, phew I’m over it, the most annoying part of highschool, I remember sitting on my couch watching episode after episode of House and Top gear. Not to mention the laziness to complete homework and projects.
    And SMT soldering, I remember spending hours on my rework station to get resistors and capacitors to solder properly. I remember the feeling of satisfaction after successfully soldering my first TQFP component (an ATMega 328 microcontroller). Also making circuit boards is a priceless process. I make PCBs at home using a laser printer, photo paper, copper boards and ferric chloride, a very cheap and effective method for my projects (and for prototyping, plus the added proffessional look).
    One more thing, as you say “This is the end” of one successful journey, remember “This is just the beginning” of another. and HOLY SMOKES!!! you drank through a firehose, and you drank enough to earn your MechE degree. Also thank you for your amazing blogs, I have read both your personal blog, this blog all along, and I remember not being able to stop laughing at your post about the VS war, the techs really know how to have fun. Tthank you very very much for taking those wonderful pictures of CPW 2007, and giving us a beautiful insight of the tech life.

  18. MIT '13 says:

    Congratulations, Snively! I honestly do think that you’re MIT’S BEST ADMISSIONS BLOGGER EVER, period. I’ve missed your entries this year, and I will really miss you once you’re gone now. I’m happy that you at least stopped by and said goodbye one last time! smile All the best for everything!!!

  19. Sauza says:

    You forgot to mention that Hockfield cut the cake WITH A SWORD! Cheers!