Pretty much everybody’s gotten on board the MOOC bandwagon. MIT says its edX platform for “Massive Open Online Courses,” as they’re called, heralds a “revolution in education.” Stanford professors Andrew Ng SM ’98 and Daphne Koeller, who cofounded edX competitor Coursera, have similar ambitions for their startup — and 33 universities have joined with them so far. Political commentators are excited, too: “Let the revolution begin,” proclaimed Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times.
It took MIT less than 86 days to pick a new president. If that sounds like a short amount of time to whittle down, interview, and vet a list of dozens of candidates, consider that the MIT Corporation’s final pick was somebody who the Institute already knew quite well. Somebody, in fact, who was already as close to the presidency as he could possibly get.
MIT’s network fell to a denial-of-service attack Sunday evening, allegedly by the Internet activist group Anonymous, cutting campus users off from Internet access to most websites for nearly three hours. The attack came in the wake of accusations that MIT’s role in the pending litigation against Internet activist Aaron Swartz contributed to his Friday suicide. On Monday afternoon, MIT spokeswoman Kimberly C. Allen confirmed that the outage was due to a denial-of-service attack (DoS).
MIT’s campus as you know it may not exist in 100 years — and if it does, it would likely have a renewed focus on ocean engineering. That’s because, according to a New York Times analysis of major U.S. cities, much of southern Cambridge would be underwater if ocean levels rise five feet, which is “probable” within 100–300 years. If levels rose 20 feet, over half of Cambridge and a third of Boston would be submerged.
The University of Texas system — nine universities, six health centers, 212,000 students and 19,000 faculty — announced yesterday it would join edX, the MIT-pioneered online learning platform and university consortium. The move sextuples the number of institutions involved with edX, from three to eighteen, and bolsters MIT’s efforts to make online technology a staple of university education.
If you like to laugh, you should see Ted. It’s Seth MacFarlane’s (Family Guy) first try at directing for the silver screen, and he delivers on what he does best — telling hilarious vulgar, racist, or sexist jokes. But MacFarlane’s gift is also a curse, because Ted seems to skimp on everything else, making it feel more like a big-budget vehicle to tell the same jokes you can get from an episode of Family Guy.
I had high expectations going into Prometheus. Ridley Scott finally took the director’s chair again to create a pseudo-prequel to Alien — one of my favorite sci-fi films — which he directed in 1979. Scott did such an amazing job with Alien, so how could Prometheus not be good?
MIT will announce its 17th president tomorrow morning after a special meeting of the MIT Corporation, according to a press release from the MIT News Office. The Corporation will elect Susan J. Hockfield’s successor, who has been picked after a 3-month long search process conducted by a joint faculty-Corporation committee.
This week, faculty again took to the pages of their Newsletter to chime in on key Institute developments, including the selection of the next president, MIT 2030, and MITx. The March/April newsletter’s editorial page also featured faculty thoughts on the presidential search process, in addition to 10 suggestions for specific people who could replace President Susan J. Hockfield.
This month, three tickets will vie to be next year’s Undergraduate Association President and Vice President: Jonté D. Craighead ’13 and Michael P. Walsh ’13, Narendra “Naren” P. Tallapragada ’13 and Andrew C. Yang ’13, and Brendan T. Deveney ’13 and Mary A. Breton ’14. Campaigning officially began yesterday, and the campus will vote on April 11–13.
The Graduate Student Council/Undergraduate Association student advisory group to the Presidential Search Committee have initiated a series of public forums with the intent of getting student input on the search for MIT’s next president. The first of these forums was held on Tuesday evening in Ashdown House’s Hulsizer Room.
Anant Agarwal, director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), announced yesterday that he would step down from his role as director to fully devote himself to the Open Learning Enterprise (working title), which runs theMITx initiative. Since its announcement last December, MITx has caught the eye of MIT faculty, the world of higher education, and 120,000 people who signed up for the pilot course, 6.002x.
The MIT Corporation has set the wheels in motion for replacing President Susan J. Hockfield, who announced her resignation on Feb. 16 and will continue as president until a replacement is sworn in. James A. Champy ’63, who led the search committee that selected Hockfield, will again chair the presidential search committee. Chairman of the MIT Corporation John S. Reed ’61 has hopes that the committee will be formed and begin its work next week.
6.002 (Circuits and Electronics) will be the first course offered via MITx, announced late last year that has seen widespread praise but also faces questions from some faculty members. MIT has billed MITx as a way to enhance the on-campus education for MIT students and simultaneously offer MIT courses, largely free, to the rest of the world.
Undergraduate Association President Allan E. Miramonti ’13 announced his resignation in a campuswide email last Wednesday, citing his need to “refocus” on academics and well-being. Miramonti’s vice president, TyShaun Wynter ’13, assumed the presidency immediately.
2011 was a landmark year for the Undergraduate Association. Two successive administrations put forth plans to substantially restructure the organization, culminating in the dissolution of the UA Senate in December. A UA Council will take its place, comprised of representatives from dormitories, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Panhellenic Association (Panhel), the Living Group Council (LGC), and an off-campus representative. Unlike the Senate, constituencies will decide for themselves how to pick their representatives.
MIT unveiled a long-term vision for the next 20 years of its development — “MIT 2030” — this spring. Though not a concrete plan in itself, MIT 2030 is essentially a collection of campus renovations, new construction, and real-estate development projects, some of which have already started.
MIT is developing an online educational platform that will be open-source, largely free, and let users outside of MIT earn certificates for completing Institute-caliber courses online. MIT hopes the initiative, internally dubbed “MITx,” will change the way students learn on-campus — by incorporating elements of MITx into existing curricula — and push MIT’s educational reach beyond campus borders in a way the current OpenCourseWare (OCW) cannot.
MIT is developing an online educational platform that will be open-sour, largely free, and let users outside of MIT earn certificates for completing Institute-caliber courses online. MIT hopes the initiative, internally dubbed "MITx" will change the way students learn on-campus — by incorporating elements of MITx into existing curricula — and push MIT's educational reach beyond campus borders in a way the current OpenCourseWare (OCW) cannot.
Salman A. Khan ’98 — founder of the Khan Academy and MIT’s 146th commencement keynote speaker — has found a new popularity at his alma mater. The Tech’s Tuesday article on Khan’s selection as commencement speaker had been shared on Facebook 453 times as of yesterday evening. But where did the idea to select Khan, the youngest commencement speaker in at least 30 years, come from?
The Panhellenic Association released the names of its new executive board Sunday, elected earlier this month. Denzil Sikka ’13 of Alpha Phi, Panhel’s current vice president for finance and administration, will take over as president on Dec. 10. Panhel’s new officers were elected by a majority vote of the six Panhel delegates from their respective sororities. Topping Sikka’s priority list for Panhel is a revamped website and increased sharing of information among sororities, specifically regarding events and scholarships. She also wants to continue to ensure smooth sorority recruitment periods and “inspire Panhellenic spirit.”
Freshman Satto Tonegawa’s cause of death was ruled self-inflicted asphyxiation, according to his death certificate filed with the Cambridge City Clerk’s office. Tonegawa, son of MIT Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa, was found dead in his MacGregor dormitory room last Tuesday. He was 18.
Satto Tonegawa ’15 was found dead in his MacGregor dormitory room yesterday evening.
Biology Department Head Chris A. Kaiser PhD ’88 has been selected to run the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) beginning next year, the MIT News Office reported on Tuesday. Kaiser will oversee NIGMS’s $2 billion budget for funding basic life sciences research.
The new House Dining program is popular among freshmen, but less so among upperclassmen, according to enrollment statistics released to The Tech by the Division of Student Life. The mandatory meal plan for residents of Maseeh, Baker, Next, Simmons, and McCormick amassed a total enrollment of 1,888 students, 45 percent of which are freshmen.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced yesterday that it signed a 10-year lease with MIT for 180,000 square feet of space in a building to be constructed at 610 Main St. The site is just north of MIT’s main campus in the Technology Square area, several blocks up Main St. from the Kendall Square T-stop. Pfizer predicts they will move into the new building when it is completed by the end of 2013.
MIT has finally finished the most complex housing cycle in recent memory. The 460-bed Maseeh Hall opened alongside a substantial overhaul of the Institute’s undergraduate dining system. Both Maseeh and the dining system were predicted to influence the choices freshmen make about where they want to live.
The people who keep MIT running day-in, day-out are looking for a new home. The Operations group of MIT’s Department of Facilities is mulling use of the former California Products Corporation’s property at the corner of Waverly St. and Putnam Ave., just northwest of West Campus. At a June 22 meeting, MIT officials pitched the idea to residents of Cambridgeport — the neighborhood where this property currently lies dormant.
The Cambridge Police Bomb Unit and MIT police responded early Tuesday morning to a report of “suspicious materials” — which looked similar to pipe bombs — in New House. Police evacuated New House and Next House, and cordoned off Amherst Alley near MacGregor. Six and a half hours later, MIT announced that the materials posed no threat to campus safety, and that the area was safe to re-enter.
Cambridge Police Bomb Unit and MIT police responded early this morning to a report of “suspicious materials” in New House. Police evacuated New House and Next House, and cordoned off Amherst Alley near MacGregor. At around 2 p.m., MIT announced that the materials posed no threat to campus safety, and that the area was safe to re-enter.
MIT has begun laying out the future of our campus. By coalescing several of the Institute’s ongoing and future campus development projects under a broad planning initiative dubbed “MIT 2030,” Institute administrators and faculty hope to realistically envision where the campus will be in 20 years. MIT recently sold $750 million in 100-year bonds to help finance development projects in the MIT 2030 framework.
To the outside world, MIT can be an intimidating place. Films like Good Will Hunting and 21 have portrayed the Institute as an exclusive — and sometimes snobbish — club of scientists and engineers. Last Saturday, MIT set out to change all that by hosting its first open house in more than 30 years, dubbed “Under the Dome.”
MIT is like an onion — it’s got layers. This image captures three spatial and two temporal layers of the Institute. In the foreground is part of the Stata Center, completed in 2004; in the middleground, Buidling 56 (1965); and the background, the Green Building (1964). Stata and its funky architecture were part of a recent wave of campus expansion, while Building 56 and Green went up at a time when Stata’s design would be inconceivable. But today, all three stand as important centers of research, and for the busy undergraduate, useful landmarks.
The Undergraduate Association (UA) held an open session yesterday evening to collect feedback and student input on a proposed student government restructuring. The Ad-Hoc Committee on the Implementation of Potential Restructuring (CIPR), which was created at the UA Senate meeting on April 4, met over the past week to hash out details on representation in a new UA Council and the transition process from the current UA structure. The Dormitory Council and the Senate are expected to vote on a measure to enact a new constitution — as recommended by CIPR — this Thursday.
One hundred and fifty years ago this Sunday, Massachusetts Governor John Andrew put pen to parchment, signing a charter to create the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The April 10, 1861 charter, as passed by the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives, called for an institute to advance “science in connection with arts, agriculture, manufactures and commerce.” A century and a half later, those words greet students as they make their daily passage through Lobby 7. Though the 1861 charter’s words continue to inspire the Institute’s mission today, the MIT of 2011 is the product of 150 years of development, evolving from a small tech school across the Charles to the world’s leading research university.
As the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific brought the world’s third-largest economy to its knees, millions of people around the globe watched with baited breath to see whether Japan’s damaged nuclear reactor, Fukushima I, would be the next Chernobyl. Two days later, a blog post entitled “Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors” went live on , a site which was registered that same day. Only hours later, Jim J. Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money called the post — after it was reproduced at — the “best piece on the nuke issue,” via Twitter. The original author of the post? Josef Oehmen, a researcher at MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI).
Replete with graying beard and Canadian accent, Saskatchewan native and newly appointed Chancellor W. Eric L. Grimson PhD ’80 met with the UA Senate for the first time Monday evening. Echoing concerns raised two weeks ago when the Senate met with MIT Corporation Chairman John S. Reed ’61, students grilled the new chancellor on student engagement, culture, and communication.
On March 4, some of the most powerful people in the United States gathered under the tent outside the Building 76 to celebrate the dedication of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. All of MIT’s top brass was joined by Senator Scott P. Brown (R-Mass.) and David H. Koch ’62 himself — who Forbes listed as the 24th richest person in the world in 2010.
Chairman of the MIT Corporation John S. Reed ’61 spoke at last night’s UA Senate meeting, addressing student concerns over deferred maintenance, student life, academic policy, and budget plans. Last night’s meeting marks the first time Reed has spoken at the Senate since his election to the Corporation on June 4 last year.
Cambridge City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves expressed deep misgivings over MIT’s plan to revitalize Kendall Square at this month’s Town Gown meeting, saying that MIT’s motives in the project may be driven by profit and that the Institute lacks expertise in building community spaces.
Every year, some of MIT’s most important administrators stand before the people of Cambridge. The City, which is largely defined by its universities, asks that Harvard, MIT, Lesley University, and Cambridge College give annual public Town Gown reports about what each institution has been doing for the last 365 days and what the future has in store. Because in a city of slightly over 100,000 people, it’s no small wonder that some of the nation’s largest, richest, and most influential schools have a big impact on how this town works.
MIT is a different place today than it was one year ago. On a global level, MIT is connecting to the rest of the world in ways it never has before. On a local level, MIT itself is evolving — faced with new financial realities and a need to remain competitive with peer schools, the Institute has seen significant changes to important aspects of academics and student life. Many of 2010’s changes will define MIT for years to come.
MIT often finds itself connected to stories of national and international significance, and 2010 was no exception. Wikileaks, an organization which publishes leaked documents online, found itself in the middle of a global political firestorm after publishing documents detailing American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies the world over. The alleged leaker responsible for handing over these documents to Wikileaks? Bradley Manning, an Army private who had visited Pika in summer 2009 and came again to MIT in January 2010.
I’m not a superhero buff, but I could tell that The Dark Knight and Iron Man were great superhero flicks. The Green Hornet, directed by Michel Gondry (of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, and once an Artist-in-Residence at MIT) and starring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou was not a great superhero flick. It wasn’t even a good superhero flick. It promised an exciting and witty blend of comedy and action, but failed to deliver either in significant amounts. One or two chuckles and a mildly entertaining final action scene couldn’t make up for another hour of vapid dialogue, lackluster 3D, and a general sense of “what’s going on here?”
Last November, The Tech published some of the results of a campus-wide political survey. We asked graduate and undergraduate students about their views on today’s most important social, political, and economic issues, and 2,145 people — 20 percent of campus — responded. Here, we present your responses to military engagement questions, particularly concerning the United States’ role in the Middle East.
Last October, The Tech surveyed the undergraduate and graduate population about their political views, and 2,145, or 20 percent of the total student population, responded. We promised to provide follow-up analysis after our original overview in the November 2, 2010 issue of The Tech. Some readers wrote in and requested a breakdown of specific survey questions. Here, we take a look at how students responded when asked if they consider themselves libertarians.
A pulverized piano. The MIT CityCar. The original Bose prototype speaker. These items, and 147 others, will be presented to the world in the MIT 150 Exhibition at the MIT Museum. The exhibit, which aims to chronicle 150 years of Institute history through 150 objects, opens this Saturday to kick off a semester-long celebration of MIT’s 150th birthday.
During the week of October 25, The Tech surveyed 2,145 graduate and undergraduate students, or nearly 20 percent of the student population at MIT, about their political views. On Election Day, November 2, we published a breakdown of some of the more interesting results, and promised to publish more in the coming weeks. Conspicuously absent from our original analysis was a gender breakdown, which is presented here.
College students, especially those in Cambridge, have a reputation for being left of center. Our results bore that out. Overall, 48 percent of MIT students thought the Democratic Party best reflected their views, whereas only 9 percent said the same of the Republicans. The Libertarian party put up a good fight, matching Republicans at 9 percent. A meager 2 percent identified with the Tea Party movement.
The economy. Health care reform. Iran’s nuclear program. Issues like these will determine the outcome of today’s midterm elections, when Americans across the country will vote for 37 Senators, 36 governors, and all 435 members of the House of Representatives. At stake are the Democrats’ control over both houses of Congress, and consequently, the direction of Barack Obama’s presidency for at least the next two years. With the increasing importance of science-related policy in America, and its relevance to MIT, <i>The Tech</i> wanted to know where MIT students stand on the important political issues of the day.
Last semester in these pages, I implored the student body to participate in, or at least care about, student government. In the wake of last week’s Undergraduate Association election results, it’s again time to talk about the worth of the UA and student government in general. Freshmen may still be unfamiliar with the workings of the various student policy-making organizations — the UA, Dormitory Council, the Interfraternity Council — just to name a few, but that’s all the more reason why new MIT students should start this year with an open mind about student government.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made the case to an audience of MIT students and faculty that technological distractions in the car constitute an “epidemic” — each year, 6,000 people die because someone was texting or making a call while on the road. And Secretary LaHood is right. Distracted driving is a problem. But the Department of Transportation’s plan to tackle this challenge in the same way they taught us to wear seat belts and not drive drunk might have some problems of its own.
Here at MIT, we’re all about coming up with creative solutions to big problems. It’s just what we do best. But sometimes, it pays to remember that small, simple solutions can add up to solve big problems.
Sometimes it seems like the Undergraduate Association can’t do anything for you. After all, isn’t it really just the same powerless, ineffectual government-ish organization that couldn’t do anything for you in high school, either? At the end of the day, doesn’t the MIT administration really call the shots? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean that participation in student government isn’t valuable for other reasons.
Both on campus and around the world, the struggling global economy was the defining feature of 2009. On campus, students and administrators worked to find solutions to the Institute’s budget crisis, sometimes offering different visions of what a leaner MIT should look like. Nationally and globally, the economic downturn that began in 2008 continued to have a major impact on policymaking for the newly-inaugurated President of the United States as well as newly-powerful international bodies like the G20.
For a lot of reasons, undergraduates are often scared off from moving to apartments in Cambridge, Boston, or Somerville. Finding an apartment is a significant investment of valuable time and there are more unknowns than living in dorms or FSILGs — how much will utilities cost? How will I get to class? What’s a security deposit? But with the right strategy and the right attitude, moving off-campus can be financially, socially, and developmentally well-worth the risk.
Amidst the concrete barricades blocking off Amherst Alley, snipers on the Z-Center, the motorcade hustling past our dorms on Memorial Drive, and of course, the Presidential podium in Kresge, it’s easy to forget that Barack Obama came to MIT to deliver a message. It may not have been a very profound message, nor something we haven’t heard before, but since it happened here its worthwhile to think about and ask: What did the President tell us? Perhaps more importantly: What <i>didn’t</i> he tell us?
MIT Admissions’s recent decision to drop the long essay in favor of three short ones on the 2009–2010 application is something of a mixed bag. Like Admissions says, it could give MIT a more multifaceted and genuine picture of potential students. But at the same time, it may deny students the opportunity to write beyond a short-essay prompt and beyond a 200 word limit. Both options have their merits, and clearly, it remains to be seen how effective the new application will be.
In a September 1 column (“For Healthcare, Right is Wrong”) in <i>The Tech</i>, Joe Maurer argues that healthcare, prescription drugs, and emergency room treatment are not constitutionally-protected and inalienable rights, but goods and services to be earned through the acquisition of wealth. Maurer argues that healthcare is akin to property — an essential to life that is universally accessible in that those with sufficient wealth can always have it, but not universally provided for. Maurer also makes an economic argument — nonessential services like education and public safety economically benefit the country as a whole and thus are provided for in part or wholly by the government. “The purpose of any government subsidy or support,” writes Maurer, “is to encourage more of a desirable thing. No one with a medical ailment needs encouragement from a government to remedy their problem.”
And maybe it never will.
Last August, I had no idea MIT had a pistol team. I didn’t even know that pistol was a collegiate sport. “Pistol?” I asked. “You mean like guns?” Coming from a high school whose prime directive in making policy was to avoid lawsuits, it had never occurred to me that a college would allow 17 and 18-year olds to handle firearms. But, in fact, MIT has a thriving pistol team which has captured two national championship titles in the past four years.
It’s always easy to complain about things. For some reason, humans have the amazing innate ability to hone in on the bad and neglect the good. And at a place like MIT, it’s especially easy to fall into that trap. The rigor of the courses, problem sets, and tests coupled with everything MIT has to offer inside and out of the classroom contribute to the hybrid nature of our unofficial motto, “IHTFP.” Immortalized on every class ring, it is often a cry of frustration (at least mentally) and sometimes invoked as a term of endearment (e.g. “I Have Truly Found Paradise”). It can even be both simultaneously. But whether or not you have ever, or ever will think of MIT as “paradise,” we sometimes forget amidst the dining failures, sports cuts, and housing issues that this place does a lot of things right.
Sometimes, it felt like the Bush administration believed blood-letting could purge a man of all evil humors and the universe revolved around the sun. At least government policies supporting scientific research seemed to reflect as much — that we were still stuck in an era where dogma rather than science drove progress.
Storm clouds have begun to gather since the bright, sunny day we welcomed Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. Faced with a seemingly intractable economic crisis and a Senate mired in the same kind of partisan squabbling that we all know and hate, there were few who truly expected the administration to fix the country in the first few weeks. I did not expect Barack Obama to resolve the crisis single-handedly. But, like many Americans, I expected more from the people the President picked to run his administration.
This past Monday, I munched on a chocolate glazed donut and sipped on iced tea (lemon and sugar) from Dunkin’ Donuts. I had a $5 foot-long Spicy Italian sub from Subway after my 5.111 lecture. And after pistol practice, I grabbed a cheeseburger from the Cambridge Grill.
Barack Obama and John McCain faced off in their last presidential debate this Wednesday, and by many measures, it was the most interesting of the three rumbles. The senators tackled the economy, healthcare, energy, and for the first time, abortion, education and the nomination of justices for the Supreme Court.
For a university that makes it seamless for students to get health insurance and dental insurance, and for a university that ensures there’s an on-campus barber shop and optical center for our convenience, MIT cannot seem to make it nearly as seamless or convenient for us to get the textbooks we need.