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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

West Coast Trip Report by Chris Peterson SM '13

some work, some play, lots of nerd stuff

I’m back in Boston and absurdly jetlagged. I promised, though, that I would post updates from my West Coast trip after I returned, so, here is my trip report, with 100% more screaming toilets than I had anticipated. [ASK] me about traveling for 2.5 weeks in two carry-on bags.

May 13-14: Bae-Area Bloggers

I’ll arrive this afternoon, try to grab a quick coffee with CMS/Civic classmate Rodrigo, who now runs product at Neighborly, before heading over to a celebration dinner for Jess K. ’10 graduating from med school.


My flight was delayed due to ongoing construction at SFO so I couldn’t connect with Rodrigo. I did, however, make Dr. Kim’s graduation dinner.



Tomorrow, I’ll drive down to South Bay and work out at Stanford


h a c k e d


then stop by the Stupid Shit No One Needs And Terrible Ideas Hackathon to hang out with Rachel F. ’12 and Danny B.D. ’15 before flying to LAX that night.


Not only did I get to do this, but I got to see Danny and Sabrina S. ’16 build two amazing, terrible, amazingly terrible contraptions.



First, here’s Danny demoing the World’s Worst Spoon, which him and Sabrina were working on when I got there.


Then, they told me they also had the idea for a plunger that would scream at you while you used it. Inspired by the singing toothbrush, but y’know, more stupid. I couldn’t build it, but I volunteered to provide the vocals, and so proceeded to scream into an iPhone in a bathroom in the Mission so loudly that when I finished people applauded.



Of all the things I’ve helped make that will live on after me, this may be my favorite, and it’s always good to know that if this admissions thing doesn’t work out I have a promising future in screamtech. I’m also very proud to show off Danny and Sabrina’s work as an excellent example of what an MIT education can make you capable of making.




May 15-19: ISEF @ LA


This coming week I’ll be tabling at ISEF, the world’s largest and most prestigious science and engineering research competition for high school students (you can read my trip reports for ISEF in 2015 and 2016). ISEF is a great competition that sends many alumni to MIT and is broadly aligned with the international strategy recently announced by MIT. I’ll be holding down booth 307 in the ISEF Commons with Laurie Stach and her team from MIT Launch, as well as giving symposia talks on the application process for researchers and international students. Anna H. ’14, blogger alumna (and now PhD student at Dread Caltech), will probably be helping me out at the table, along with some of our LA ECs.


ISEF went great! I’ll probably blog a rundown of MIT 2021s and their projects later this week, but for now, here is a photo of us having an ice cream reunion outside the main building:


and me and Anna holding down the booth in the commons



I also definitely made a trip back to Bluesalt Fish Grill from my last time in LA:


May 20-21: BAMF

Next weekend I’ll return to the Bay for the annual Maker Faire Bay Area to give a talk about our Maker Portfolio.


I gave this talk! I didn’t take any pictures of it, but my slides are here. I did, however, take pictures of robots:



This weekend will also hopefully feature a blogger reunion BBQ; rest assured I will post it if that happens.


We swapped BBQ for brunch! Here you can see me presenting my breakfast while rfong presents how to eat it; also, an Anastassia selfie of her, me, rfong, Mollie, Jess, and Michael.





May 22-26: Civics in the Sun

I’ll head down to San Diego. My plan is to take Monday and Tuesday as hard vacation: no work or email, just surfing and reading.


I was unsuccessful at taking hard vacation, but my nominal vacation did include good amounts of surfing, reading, and burgers w/ former admissions officer Holly, who now lives in SoCal.




Starting Wednesday I’ll be attending Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide (PPDD), a conference organized in conjunction with the International Communications Association (ICA), which is the big annual conference in the field. I’m going to present on research I’ve been conducting at Civic on Internet filtering in public schools and libraries as part of an broader project on contemporary censorship in public institutions.


I did this! You can read my liveblogs of the conference and summary/slides of my presentation over on the Civic site.

Then, if all goes well, I’ll get back in Boston on Saturday morning, just in time to catch the final two days of Boston Calling


Mission accomplished, more or less. Pretty sure after this work/vacation I need another vacation. But I always enjoy my time on the left coast. Thanks for having me!

l a t e r s