Monthly Archives: December 2014

December 31, 2014

Ranger and 3Q: Hacking Ebola health care

Bryan Ranger, a third-year doctoral student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, was the student lead for MIT’s participation in the weekend event Stop Ebola Hackathon (Dec. 13-14). The event was sponsored by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Global Health, MIT Hacking Medicine, and other organizations. It drew more than 100 participants, who heard from front-line medical workers about their experiences dealing with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and then spent the weekend in teams attempting to devise ways of addressing the hardships and issues of working against a deadly disease under difficult conditions. MIT News asked Ranger to describe the organization and the outcome of the weekend hackathon. Read more, including Ranger’s interview, at MIT News.

December 31, 2014

Networking Seems So Sleazy

People changing jobs often turn to their own network of professional contacts for leads. Richard Bolles, in his well-known career guide, What Color is Your Parachute?, says that tactic has a 33 percent success rate. But it’s a particular challenge for Ph.D.’s in search of a nonacademic career, because they often have a limited professional network outside of academe.

In my role as a career coach, I hear about this challenge all the time from graduate students and postdocs looking to leave higher education. Here are the most frequent barriers they confront, and some tips on how to overcome them.

“I don’t know anyone outside of my field and my department.” Students who make that statement often seem to assume that their academic colleagues and mentors don’t know anyone in the world of practice either. And that may be true. But especially if your Ph.D. is in a field that has related jobs in business or industry, your faculty may have contacts beyond the academy that can serve as leads into a new career.

Continue reading on Chronicle Vitae.

December 31, 2014

OneMIT takes off

MIT Sloan students and administrators are collaborating on a new Institute initiative. In his 2012 inaugural address, MIT President L. Rafael Reif challenged the Institute to work together as “One MIT” to address the world’s greatest challenges. MIT Sloan students — working with administrators and other graduate students across campus — have taken up the gauntlet with the launch of the OneMIT initiative, a multifaceted effort to connect graduate students across all five schools.

“It’s very much a joint initiative, backed not only by MIT Sloan but the Institute, and supported with groundwork being done by the students,” says Jake Cohen, who oversees student services as MIT Sloan’s senior associate dean for undergraduate and master’s programs. “We strongly believe that the world’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by one discipline alone.” Read more at MIT News.

December 30, 2014

IAP Course 15.339: Distributed Leadership Workshop

Interested in developing your leadership capabilities through group discussions, exercises, and reflection? Spend some time this IAP participating in 15.339 (Distributed Leadership Workshop), the same course offered to senior executives through Sloan executive education! This 3-day class is open to graduate students from all MIT departments. The schedule will be 8:30am to 6:00pm on Days 1 and 2 and 8:30am to 3:30pm on Day 3, with everything held in E62-233. Three sessions will be available for the class: Jan 6-8, Jan 13-15, and Jan 27-29. To learn more or express your interest in taking the course, visit the course interest formPhoto by Pedro Ribeiro Simões.

December 30, 2014

The Foundry at MIT

Within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering lives a place where students can come and put their materials knowledge into practice. The Foundry at MIT provides a space for students, like second year grad student, Zachery Cordero, faculty and staff to come innovate, create and get their hands dirty in the process. Photo by Stephen Scott Jenkins

December 29, 2014


2015 Legatum Fellowship: Apply by Jan. 22

The Legatum Center seeks entrepreneurs who aspire to have a lasting and positive economic impact on low-income countries by developing their own entrepreneurial ideas and building their own local enterprises. The Fellowship is open to all incoming and current MIT graduate students, and students currently enrolled as sophomores and juniors at MIT.  The application deadline is January 22, 2015. For more information on the Legatum Fellowship and how to apply, please visit here. Email Kwadwo Poku at if you have questions.

December 29, 2014

IAP MIT Flute Ensemble: “The Institooters!” Jan. 5 – 29

Jan. 5 to Jan. 29 on Mondays and Thursdays in room 4-160 join “The Institooters” Flute Ensemble. Improve your flute playing skills, whether rusty or not! Perform fun, beautiful music from the 16th-21st centuries, in a variety of styles. Bass flute, alto flutes and piccolos will be made available. Intermediate to Advanced Levels. Preferably prior experience in a music ensemble. Contact with any questions. Photo by Michael Coleman

December 24, 2014

Lee & McKnelly: New Marvin E. Goody Award Winners

Juney Lee and Carrie McKnelly were recently announced as the 2015 Marvin E. Goody Award winners. Lee, M.Eng. in Civil and Environmental Engineering degree candidate, was granted this award for his thesis proposal “Structural Design Explorations using Grammatical Graphic Statics” while McKnelly, SMArchS Design and Computation degree candidate, for her proposal “Knitting Behavior: Discovering Performance Driven Forms with a Material-Based Design Computation”. Both explore the bond between good design and good building through extending the horizons of existing building techniques and materials, and foster links between the academic world and the building industry.

December 24, 2014

Use Improv to improve interview & communication skills Jan. 15

This IAP, learn improv comedy skills to increase your comfort responding to interview questions and enhance communication and team work skills. This will be a fun and interactive session with Improv Boston, a local Boston improv company. This workshop is especially helpful for those who feel uncomfortable while interviewing or speaking in public.  The session will take place January 15, 2015, from 3:00 – 4:30 PM in 4-153. Registration is required via CareerBridge. For questions, contact Jake Livengood at GECD:

December 23, 2014

Eddy theorizes what really killed the dinosaurs

Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid more than five miles wide smashed into the Earth at 70,000 miles per hour, instantly vaporizing upon impact. The strike obliterated most terrestrial life, including the dinosaurs, in a geological instant: Heavy dust blocked out the sun, setting off a cataclysmic chain of events from the bottom of the food chain to the top, killing off more than three-quarters of Earth’s species — or so the popular theory goes.

But now scientists at MIT and elsewhere have found evidence that a major volcanic eruption began just before the impact, possibly also playing a role in the extinction.

The team, including graduate student Michael Eddy, precisely dated rocks from the Deccan Traps — a region of west-central India that preserves remnants of one of the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth. Based on their analysis, the researchers determined that the eruption began 250,000 years before the asteroid strike and continued for 500,000 years after the giant impact, spewing a total of 1.5 million square kilometers of lava. The immense and long-lasting volcanism may have released dangerous levels of volatile chemicals into the air, poisoning the atmosphere and oceans. Read more at MIT News.

December 23, 2014

Help students in 6.S187: Code for Good this IAP

Want to help out with 6.S187 (Code for Good) this IAP? Code for Good is an IAP class where MIT students are working on software related projects with nonprofits organizations nearby. The class is looking for graduate students or professors who may be interested in taking some time to teach workshops or mentor student teams. The time commitment is up to you. You can have an hour-long talk or workshop, help out for the entire course, or anything in between. More information about the projects that are being working with is available on the class website. Visit the website for more information about the class, and contact us at if you’re interested in helping out with the class.

December 22, 2014

IAP 2015: Patent Law Fundamentals

Learn about the fundamentals of U.S. Patent Law with Jeff Meldman in 15.S51, a special seminar in management to take place during IAP 2015.  The class will take place from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in MIT Room E62-250 on January 12, 14, 16, 21, 23, 26, and 28th.  Topics include requirements of utility, novelty, and non-obviousness; eligible subject matter; patentability of software, business methods, and human genes; the patent application process, including patent searching and the language of patent claims; infringement, defenses, and remedies.  The class will also examine critical changes introduced by the recent America Invents Act (first to invent versus first to file), and clarify the relation of patents to other forms of intellectual property (copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks).  Visit the MIT Stellar website for more information.

December 22, 2014

Grad Hillel Chanukah party Dec. 23

Celebrate the last night of Chanukah with MIT Hillel, all are welcome! Join us for candle lighting at 6 PM on Tuesday, December 23rd in the W11 Main Dining Room, followed by games and food including FREE latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts), beverages, and gelt. Contact with questions.

December 19, 2014

Burt, Brain Power, and Google Glass

MIT Sloan students are collaborating with a Cambridge startup to transform how people with autism interact with their families, teachers, and caregivers.  The students are working with Brain Power LLC, which develops a range of software applications that run on Google Glass. The applications provide a “gamified” environment its developer says allows autistic children to engage the outside world and measure their growth. The MIT Sloan students are spending a semester researching the market opportunities and obstacles to the product’s success.

Steve Burt, MBA ’15, a member of the team working with Brain Power, volunteered with autistic children at the Boston non-profit Best Buddies before arriving at MIT Sloan. Burt said he was eager to work with an enterprise involved with autism at a critical moment its development. “I am very interested in getting involved in real companies, to make a real difference,” Burt said. “This is an opportunity I don’t know if you’d get anywhere else.” Burt and his MIT Sloan colleagues—Steve Fuller, LGO ’15, Arturo Romero, SF ’15, and Keisuke Suzuki, SF ’15—get this opportunity through Healthcare Lab, one of 16 MIT Sloan Action Learning programs. Each lab stresses learning by doing, matching teams of students with businesses to help solve their complex problems. Read more at MIT Sloan.

December 19, 2014

The Confidence Gap in Academic Writing

“As a writing workshop instructor, I’ve become familiar with the garden-variety problems that graduate students face in writing a dissertation. Often those difficulties boil down to an avoidance of the daily grind of writing itself. Sometimes students lack any concrete feedback on their drafts or receive comments that are too general to be of much help in the revision process. Many students are unfamiliar with the tricks and tools of the writing trade itself – things like reverse outlines, free writing, or “storyboarding.”

My role is to help graduate students with the technical aspects of writing. But as I have counseled more and more of them, I have noticed a disturbing trend. While all of my students had trouble finding their voice or sticking to a writing schedule, some of my female students seemed to have an additional – and less technical – problem: a crippling lack of confidence. After a year of working intensely with Ph.D. and master’s candidates, I slowly realized that my female students were more likely than the men to feel as if something was fundamentally lacking about either their projects or their skills.” Continue reading at Chronicle Vitae.

December 18, 2014


Schroedel playing an active role in studying voter suppression of Native Americans

Like African Americans and women before them, Native Americans are effectively being denied the ability to vote. The issue is national in scope, affecting tribes in Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico, Alaska, and other states. For many tribes, the civic duties of registering to vote and casting a ballot have become profoundly problematic tasks impeded by the obstacles of distance, race, and poverty. But a team of CGU researchers—led by Jean Schroedel, former MIT alumni and Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, a professor in the university’s Division of Politics and Economics and a leading expert on Native American voter suppression, and including Robert Saporito—is playing an active role in studying the disenfranchisement and voter suppression of Native Americans. In a recent case, the team’s extensive research served as key evidence in a federal case involving voter access for isolated tribes in Montana. Read the full article on The Flame.

December 18, 2014

Apply for the Leland Energy Fellowship by Jan. 2!

The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) Program provides students with an opportunity to gain and develop research skills with the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy for 10 weeks over the summer.  For 20 years, this program has increased awareness of DOE research opportunities to students pursuing STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering and math).  The goal of the program is to improve opportunities for women and minority students in these fields, however all eligible candidates are encouraged to apply.  Stipends start at $600 per week ($750 for masters students and $850 for PhD students) and eligible Fellows will receive an additional travel and housing allowance.  To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age at the time of application, a U.S. Citizen, have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and be enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university (sophomore year or higher) or had a Ph.D. conferred on or after January 2nd, 2014 in a STEM degree.  The application closes on Friday, January 2nd, 2015!

December 18, 2014

5000 Moving Parts Exhibit extended through Jan. 19

The 5000 Moving Parts exhibit at the MIT Museum has been extended through January 19th, 2015! Come spend some time this winter admiring the kinetic art created by talented artists. Kinetic art revolves around motion, the dynamic that moves our everyday lives. Works include Machine with Breath, a collaborative piece of artwork created by Arthur Ganson and sound artist Christina Campanella. Don’t miss out!

December 17, 2014

How curiosity saved Keating’s life

MIT Mechanical Engineering PhD student Steven Keating shares how his innate curiosity shaped his personal experience as a cancer patient before, during, and after his 10-hour awake surgery to remove a baseball-sized IDH1-mutant brain tumor.

December 17, 2014

Nominate for the MLK Leadership Awards by Dec. 19

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award is annually given to individuals or groups who embody his ideals and spirit in service to the community. Here, “service to the community” is defined broadly to include academic, research, religious, and secular contributions with integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive results. If anyone you know falls under this description, consider nominating them for the award. MIT alumni, undergraduate and graduate students, groups, faculty, and staff are all eligible. The deadline for nominations is Friday, December 19th. Please submit nominations to or to Tobie Weiner in Room E53-484. Members of the MLK celebration subcommittee of the Committee on Race and diversity will select awardees. Photo by InSapphoWeTrust.

December 17, 2014

ISO Holiday Open House through Dec. 19

The annual International Students Office Holiday Open house has begun and will continue through December 19th. There will be cider and cookies to spread holiday cheer! Please come and visit E39-278 any time. Have some fun with the people at the ISO and enjoy some goodies! Photo by esimpraim.

December 16, 2014

Azzarelli on new wireless chemical sensors

MIT chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, making it easier to monitor public spaces or detect food spoilage in warehouses. Using this system, the researchers have demonstrated that they can detect gaseous ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and cyclohexanone, among other gases.

“The beauty of these sensors is that they are really cheap. You put them up, they sit there, and then you come around and read them. There’s no wiring involved. There’s no power,” says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry at MIT. “You can get quite imaginative as to what you might want to do with a technology like this.”

Swager is the senior author of a paper describing the new sensors in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Dec. 8. Chemistry graduate student Joseph Azzarelli is the paper’s lead author; other authors are postdoc Katherine Mirica and former MIT postdoc Jens Ravnsbaek. Continue reading on MIT News.

December 16, 2014

MLK Visiting Scholar Dr. James Mickens seminar Dec. 17

On Wednesday, December 17th, as part of the next installment in the MLK Visitors luncheon seminar series, Dr. James Mickens, MLK Visiting Scholar of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will be presenting on “Understanding Security Threats In Modern Web Browsers.” The seminar will take place from 12:00 to 1:30pm at MIT Sloan in E62-350, and lunch will be served. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Shauna Bush-Fenty.

December 16, 2014

Welcome to the climate change converstation

The MIT Climate Change Conversation has officially been opened to the community, and everyone is encouraged to participate. The Committee on the MIT Climate Change Conversation has developed tools for everyone to get involved and share perspectives. One such way to do this is through the new Idea Bank, a place to provide insight and suggestions for the path MIT needs to take to deal with climate change. It is time to pull together the resources and brainpower in our community to confront this monumental problem of climate change. Photo by Mikael Miettinen.

December 15, 2014

Konermann devises technique to rapidly reveal gene function

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells. This new application for the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system should allow scientists to more easily determine the function of individual genes, according to Feng Zhang, the W.M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering in MIT’s Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering, and a member of the Broad Institute and MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

This approach also enables rapid functional screens of the entire genome, allowing scientists to identify genes involved in particular diseases. In a study published in the Dec. 10 online edition of Nature, Zhang and colleagues identified several genes that help melanoma cells become resistant to a cancer drug. Silvana Konermann, a graduate student in Zhang’s lab, and Mark Brigham, a McGovern Institute postdoc, are the paper’s lead authors. Continue reading on MIT News.

December 15, 2014

Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation: Submit nominations by Dec. 17

Submit nominations for the upcoming 3rd Annual Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation! The Regeneron Prize recognizes and honors excellence in Biomedical Science conducted by graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. One winner will receive a check for $50,000 and their home institution will receive a donation of $5,000 to help support a new or existing seminar series. About 8 to 10 semi-finalists will receive $5,000. MIT will be submitting two graduate students candidates and two postdoctoral candidates for the competition, so nominate those who you think should compete!

A panel of MIT faculty will conduct an internal competition for the graduate student nominations for this prize. Each graduate program can submit one nomination for consideration for this internal MIT competition. The selection committee will then select two graduate finalists to be nominated to Regeneron for final review and consideration for this prize.  Applications must have a nomination form, the candidate’s CV, PDFs of the candidate’s publications (2-3 is sufficient), and a two-page research proposal describing a “dream” project that the candidate would want to do in the field of biomedical science. Read more

December 15, 2014

MIT Meridian Singers at Whitehead Dec. 15

It’s the holiday season and it’s the perfect time to gather around friends and family and spend time together listening to live caroling! On Monday, December 15th come hear the MIT Meridian Singers present “A-Caroling We Will Go: Carols Through The Ages.” Starting at noon in the Whitehead Institute auditorium, this concert will feature some classics that are sure to spread holiday spirit. Refreshments will be served! Photo by Sara Nelson.

December 12, 2014

Kim designs system to teach humans pattern recognition

Computers are good at identifying patterns in huge data sets. Humans, by contrast, are good at inferring patterns from just a few examples. In a paper appearing at the Neural Information Processing Society’s conference next week, MIT researchers present a new system that bridges these two ways of processing information, so that humans and computers can collaborate to make better decisions.

The system learns to make judgments by crunching data but distills what it learns into simple examples. In experiments, human subjects using the system were more than 20 percent better at classification tasks than those using a similar system based on existing algorithms. In particular, Shah and her colleagues — her student Been Kim, whose PhD thesis is the basis of the new paper, and Cynthia Rudin, an associate professor of statistics at the MIT Sloan School of Management — were trying to augment a type of machine learning known as “unsupervised.” Continue reading on MIT News.

December 12, 2014

Apply to the Volunteer Consulting Group by Dec. 15

The Volunteer Consulting Group (VCG) is organized by the Consulting Club at MIT (CCM) to give graduate students valuable experience and introduce them to consulting work. You will do a project in a small team with one of three local companies on a real business problem they have. Representatives from these companies will be available to the VCG team as needed. The program will run for 5 weeks starting January 5, 2015. After a first week of preparation (consulting/mini-MBA workshop and meeting with CEO of the company), you will need to commit approximately 8-10 hours per week for the following 4-week period of time, including two weekly meetings, one with the team and one with the host company.

 Any graduate student or postdoc at MIT who is interested in consulting, working with start-up companies or simply looking for a different, interesting experience is welcome to apply.

To apply, please send a 200-word statement of purpose to explaining how you would benefit from the VCG by Monday, December 15th, 2014. Also rank your preference for project #1, #2 and #3 (below). In the mean time you can address eventual questions to the CCM managers responsible for each project (listed below). Read more

December 12, 2014

Rueda Workshop Dec. 13

Learn to dance a Cuban form of salsa at the last Rueda workshop of the semester on Saturday, December 13th, 2014 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm in the Student Center, room 491.  No prior dance experience is necessary.  This workshop is free for MIT students.  Admission for all others in $5.  Visit the Facebook page for more information or contact

December 12, 2014

Musical comedy The Mikado playing through Dec. 13

Come see the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ production of The Mikado on Thursday, December 11th (8:00pm), Friday, December 12th (8:00pm), or Saturday, December 13th (2:00pm) in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the MIT Student Center.  Thursday is free for MIT and Wellesley students!  The Mikado is a truly hysterical tale of circumvention, blame-shifting, face-saving, excuses, scapegoats, and bald self-interest.  Reserve tickets online; tickets are also available at the door.

December 11, 2014

Mishra is making large biological circuits practical

Researchers have made great progress in recent years in the design and creation of biological circuits — systems that, like electronic circuits, can take a number of different inputs and deliver a particular kind of output. But while individual components of such biological circuits can have precise and predictable responses, those outcomes become less predictable as more such elements are combined.

A team of researchers at MIT has now come up with a way of greatly reducing that unpredictability, introducing a device that could ultimately allow such circuits to behave nearly as predictably as their electronic counterparts. The findings are published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology, in a paper by associate professor of mechanical engineering Domitilla Del Vecchio and professor of biological engineering Ron Weiss.

The lead author of the paper is Deepak Mishra, an MIT graduate student in biological engineering. Other authors include recent master’s students Phillip Rivera in mechanical engineering and Allen Lin in electrical engineering and computer science. Continue reading the article on MIT newsphoto by Brian Teague

December 11, 2014

2015 HUD Innovation Competition deadline Dec. 18

The second annual HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition challenges multi-disciplinary, graduate student teams to respond to a real life affordable housing design and planning issue. Multidisciplinary teams must be comprised of a minimum of three students (no more than five) plus one faculty advisor, representing at least three graduate level programs: architecture; planning or public policy; and business, real estate, or social entrepreneurship. Registration opens October 1, 2014 and closes December 18, 2014. To learn more and register visit the event website. The competition is sponsored by HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R).

December 11, 2014

Hannah Weinberger: Clap Slap! Dec. 11

Hannah Weinberger makes sounding objects using freely accessible samples gathered from the web, sourced in sound libraries, or recorded from social gatherings such as art openings.  Her new work builds on her interest in participation, auditory and visual modes of perception by combining different sonic objects that respond to movement throughout the space.  The participatory activation is the final public event for Open Tunings in which attendees will engage with Weinberger’s works to create a kind of collective performance.  The event will take place on Thursday, December 11th at 6:00pm in the reference gallery at the List Visual Arts Center.  Weinberger’s installation remains on view through Sunday, January 4th, 2015.  The event is free and open to all.

December 11, 2014

Don’t Study on Dec. 11!

Come to the MIT Interfaith Dialogue on Thursday, December 11th at 8:15pm in the Main Dining room of MIT Building W11 (at the corner of Amherst and Massachusetts Avenue).  Bring a topic to discuss or join one about what really matters.  What is the meaning of what I am learning?  Does what I am studying relate to who I am and what I believe?  What is my role as a citizen of this country and the world?  The sky is the limit!  Food and dessert will be available, and all are welcome.  Learn more online.

December 10, 2014

Markle’s data-gathering snow probe will help skiers avoid avalanches

To understand what’s under their feet in the backcountry, a skier or snowboarder relies on an old tool: digging a snow pit. On or near the slope a skier wants to descend, he digs a hole roughly five feet deep in the snowpack, with a vertical face to the uphill side. Then a series of loading tests with arcane names like Stuffblock or Rutschblock determines how stable the snowpack is.

It’s time-consuming, inexact work and relies entirely on subjective interpretation of the results. Get it wrong and, as Brint Markle and his friends were, you’ll be lucky to ski out alive. Last season, there were 35 avalanche deaths in the U.S. alone. (Even experienced pros get caught; in September, veteran extreme skiers J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson were killed in an avalanche in Chile.)

So when Markle enrolled at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, his business idea was to try to help people get it right. If the hardest thing about backcountry safety is understanding the snow, Markle thought, perhaps technology offered a way to get fast, objective snowpack data that could be easily shared with others. Read the article on Wired photo courtesy Avatech

December 10, 2014

Apply for the Science and Technology Policy Bootcamp by Dec. 12

The 2015 Science and Technology Policy Bootcamp will be held from Tuesday, January 20th to Friday, January 23rd, 2015, from 9:00am to 3:00pm on Monday through Friday and from 9:00am to 12:00pm on Friday.  This four-day seminar, taught by MIT Washington, D.C. Office Director William Bonvillian, will examine the policy decisions behind, and the government’s role in the science and technology based innovation system.  Given the challenges to future federal science support, this seminar will also aim to equip those planning careers in and around science and technology with the basic background for involvement in science policy-making.  Undergraduate and graduate students from all faculties are welcome.  Students must apply by Friday, December 12th, 2014 to be considered for the course.

December 10, 2014

Black Lives Matter dialogue Dec. 10

The Institute Equity and Community Office (ICEO), along with the Black Students Union (BSU), Black Women’s Alliance (BWA) and Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA), invite you to attend a panel discussion on Wednesday, December 10th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in Wong Auditorium in the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.  The discussion will feature a panel of community activists, MIT faculty, and students, who will offer commentary on US systems of inequality based on race, as well as potential strategies to affect change in race relations at MIT and beyond.  Dinner will be provided, and all members of the MIT community are invited to attend.  Community members are encouraged to wear all black on the day of the event.  Follow-up conversations will take place at the Institute Diversity Summit, which will take place from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on both Thursday, January 29th and Thursday, February 12th, 2015.  Visit the website for more information.

December 10, 2014

GCF Christmas Party Dec. 12

On Friday, December 12th, the Graduate Christian Fellowship invites all to join in on the festivities to celebrate the birth of Christ and the end of the semester. Scrumptious food and treats will be provided along with fantastic singing and entertainment. The merrymaking begins at 7:30pm in Twenty Chimneys (W20-306), so don’t miss out! This event is co-sponsored by the Graduate Christian Fellowship and the GSC Funding Board. Photo by Moyan Brenn.

December 9, 2014

Assistive Technology Final Project Showcase Dec. 10

Come to the 6.811 Final Project Showcase on Wednesday, December 10th from 3pm to 5pm in 32-044! 6.811 (Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology) is a 12-unit project-based course in which small teams of students work closely with a person with disabilities in the Cambridge/Boston area to develop a practical product or solution that helps them live more independently. During the term, each team met with its client, iterated through multiple prototypes, and learned about the complexities of designing assistive technology (AT) for people with disabilities. Eleven projects will be on display and demonstrated, including a customized text-to-speech app for a woman with primary lateral sclerosis to communicate effectively, a pressure-sensitive glove that alerts its wearer if she’s about to lose grip strength, and an accessible iPad-based nurse call system for a wheelchair user with multiple sclerosis. Refreshments will be served at 3pm. RSVPs are appreciated!

December 9, 2014

Peter Thiel at MIT Dec. 9

Come see Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel on Tuesday, Decemnver 9th at 6:30pm in MIT Building E51, Wong Auditorium.  Thiel will give a talk entitled “Developing The Developed World”, where he will also speak about his #1 New York Times bestselling book Zero to One.  Zero to One presents Thiel’s often contrarian ideas about competition, progress, technology, and how to find value in unexpected places – to build a future that we have yet to dream, but will someday become reality.  “Developing the Developed World” brings these ideas to life, including his philosophies on creating truly innovative startups in the world of atoms – not just digits and bits, and how to navigate a future marked by globalization in a world of scarce resources.  Admission is free.  Online registration is encouraged.

December 9, 2014

Dessert and Board Game Night with GAME Dec. 10

Want to celebrate the last day of classes doing something fun with friends? Come to Dessert & Board game night with GAME (Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers)! From 8pm to 10pm on Wednesday, December 10th in the Mezzanine Lounge (W20-307), go wild playing as many games as your heart desires. After gaming, head over to check out the provided desserts and hot chocolate and indulge your taste buds. It’s bound to be a great time! Photo by John Liu.

December 8, 2014

Hashim Sarkis named new Dean of SA+P

Hashim Sarkis — a prominent scholar of architecture and urbanism, a practicing architect whose works have been built in the United States and the Middle East, and a leading expert on design in the Middle East — has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), effective in January.

Sarkis is currently the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). He has been on the Harvard faculty since 1998, and has been a full professor since 2002.

For the last dozen years, Sarkis has also served as director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the GSD. The Aga Khan Program is located jointly at Harvard and MIT, and is a leading program for the study of architecture, urban issues, and visual culture in Islamic societies. He has taught courses and design studios in architecture and urban design that emphasize the importance of design in its cultural context across a broad range of geographic locations. Continue reading on the SA+P website.

December 8, 2014

Waste Alliance/Bioenergy lecture: Harvest Power Dec. 9

Brandon Moffatt, SVP of Harvest Power, will be speaking about the company’s projects and experiences on Tuesday, December 9th at 12:00pm in MIT Room 3-133.  Harvest Power builds anaerobic digesters to turn organic waste into renewable energy.  Brandon has extensive management and technical experience in the environmental, waste and renewable energy sectors.  He leads project execution with a background in corporate/project development including engineering design, permitting, commercial negotiations, feedstock procurement and corporate/project finance.  Please register for this event online.

December 8, 2014

One-Person Gestures Workshop Dec. 9

The One-Person Gestures Workshop actively involves the community in one of legendary artist Gustav Metzger’s recent proposals regarding the construction and long-term activation of spaces for social change.  Participants will divide into five thematic groups, led by moderators, and will discuss aspects of making the project a reality.  Discussions will address structural materials, dome contents, dome activities, and strategies for garnering the interest of the community around and beyond the dome.  The aim of the workshop is to develop a variety of ideas that take into consideration participants’ expertise as well as environmental considerations, communication strategies, and social inequalities.  There are still a limited amount of spots left to participate in this workshop, which takes place on Tuesday, December 9th from 10:00am to 3:00pm in MIT Room E15-001 (the ACT cube).  If interested, please email Ilse Damkoehler, Public Programming and Communications Assistant, at  You will receive a link to the application and a confirmation email once completed.

December 8, 2014

MIT Chamber Music Society Concert Dec. 8

Come enjoy a night of chamber music on Monday, December 8th in Killian Hall! Starting at 7pm, students in the MIT Chamber Music Society will be performing their concert for all to hear. Pieces include Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 (1960), Hindemith’s Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1938), Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 (1887), Lange’s Kleine Musik fur drei Floten (1938), and Tchesnokov’s Tableaux Feeriques (2008). Rejoice for this wonderful concert is free!

December 8, 2014

Plastic Paradise screening Dec. 9

Sidney Pacific and Ashdown Cherry Pie Society will co-host a film screening of Plastic Paradise, a multi-award-winning independent documentary film that uncovers and explains the marine plastic pollution crisis.  As the film discovers, “every single piece of plastic that has ever been created since the 19th century is still somewhere on our planet.”  The screening will take place on Tuesday, December 9th at 7:00pm in the Hulsizer Room of Ashdown House, and will be followed by an optional, thirty minute discussion.  Dinner will be provided.  Please RSVP online.

December 5, 2014

Vallabhaneni turns public health crisis into economic opportunity

“This is no different than working in a start-up in Silicon Valley,” said Ani Vallabhaneni, a member of a multi-disciplinary team from MIT that is heading to Kenya and launching the company “Sanergy” – a contraction of sanitation and energy. “Initially, yes, the salaries aren’t market rate. But you take what you need to live, right? So, in terms of student loans, rent, food and beer.”

Vallabhaneni and his team developed a business plan for turning a public health crisis into an economic opportunity. Some 2.6 billion people in the world lack basic sanitation, according to the World Health Organization, and the MIT students think they can help change that.

Some pretty important people agree: The team won the MIT 100k Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest, a highly prestigious annual competition that brings together students from business, engineering, and architecture. Read the article on PRI.

December 5, 2014

Gustav Metzger’s Dome(s) Project Lecture Dec. 8

Patrick Charpenel and Daniela Pérez will introduce the life and work of the artist Gustav Metzger on Monday, December 8th at 7:00pm in MIT Room E15-070.  The aim of the lecture is to share Gustav Metzger’s project in Mexico with the MIT community in order to openly discuss the deep urgency and obligation around environmental challenges facing the world today. The lecture is proposed as a platform for conversation that aims to bring together intellectual and creative strengths that individuals from various backgrounds can provide.  The project itself explores questions regarding environment, climate change, architecture, humanity, biodiversity, consciousness, natural resources, science, technology, food, sustainability, the future, and art, among other topics.  For more information, visit the ACT website.

December 5, 2014

Holiday Parties at Eastgate and Westgate Dec. 7

Two holiday parties will be held on Sunday, December 7th at 6:00pm!  The Eastgate Winter Party will take place in the Eastgate Penthouse with delicious food, gifts for kids, and a special visit from Santa Claus!  The Westgate Holiday Party will take place in Morss Hall in Walker Memorial.  These parties are open to all members of the MIT community.  Santa will also be present with gifts for the kids.  Register online.