2006-2007 Funded Projects

A New Common Core for EECS - $25,000

Professors George Verghese and Tomas Lozano-Perez, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

The EECS department is rethinking its undergraduate curriculum. A key part of the proposed new curriculum involves replacing the existing common core subjects with a pair of new subjects that increase integration across EE and CS, and involve much more hands-on work. The first of these two subjects, which uses mobile robots as the vehicle for its study, is being taught in pilot mode to 25 freshmen during spring 2006. The second subject, which is centered on communication networks, is to be launched in fall 2006. Professors Verghese and Lozano-Perez will use the Alumni Funds award for partial support of the near-term development of these subjects.


Engineering the Medieval Achievement (EMA): A Web-Based Tool for Student Exploration of Medieval Technologies - $10,000

Professor Anne McCants, History
Professor John Ochsendorf, Architecture

Professors McCants and Ochsendorf will work on a collaborative and multi-disciplinary effort to bring the contours of medieval technology to life for undergraduates studying the development of the medieval economy, and the construction of medieval monuments. It is especially designed to supplement the curriculum in subjects centered on the Middle Ages now offered across three departments: History, Economics, and Architecture. It is possible that some components of the EMA would also be of interest in other subjects, for example, as relevant historical components in environmental studies or in structural, mechanical, or ocean engineering.


Interactive Website of Educational e-Modules on National Security and International Relations - $21,124

Professor Nazli Choucri, Political Science

Professor Choucri will work on this project-the development of an interactive website consisting of educational e-modules-to provide students with "hands-on" ways of exploring challenges to security in the context of rapidly changing relations among nations as well as new threats to peace and stability. Three sets of specific e-modules will be developed, and a fourth (already available) will be used as an added resource. Jointly, they will enable students to examine world politics in ways that were not possible earlier.


International Development at New House - $9,100

Professor Bish Sanyal, Urban Studies and Planning
Professor Wesley Harris and Mrs. Sandra Harris, Housemasters, New House
Ms. Sally Susnowitz, Director, Public Service Center

This work will create a residence-based seminar focused on international development issues for the students in New House I, a diverse group of 21 undergraduates. The seminar will address the need for ethical, political and cultural instruction that has been identified in Senior Surveys; engage students in thinking about global integration and diversity; and serve as a model of residence-based classes at MIT that will potentially lead to a residential academic program in international leadership.


Living an Extraordinary Life - $15,000

Professor David Mindell, Science, Technology and Society, and Engineering Systems Division

Professor Mindell will develop a subject "Living an Extraordinary Life" to help students integrate all aspects of their lives and make educational, career, and personal decisions based on passion, integrity, and values. This continues a pilot subject from the spring semester of 2006 developed by Professor Mindell and Lauren Zander of the Handel Group, Inc., which sought to bring techniques proven in the corporate world to MIT, to help MIT students become complete students of their lives, both in and out of the classroom. This work will expand that program, formally assess its impact on MIT students, and integrate it with their educational strategies and choices.


MIT OpenLabWare - $25,000

Mr. George S. Zaidan, Undergraduate, and Professor John M. Essigmann, Biological Engineering Division

Mr. Zaidan and Professor Essigmann will develop OpenLabWare (OLW), an online resource for those wishing to understand the research process and the people who carry it out. OLW will be a web-based project composed of modules; each will have a high impact research paper published by MIT faculty or staff and a collection of supplementary materials. OLW's goals are to teach the spirit and methods of cutting-edge research, to demonstrate the impact it has on everyday life, to personalize or humanize the research process, to promote MIT's labs and staff, and to excite students (both at MIT and elsewhere) about research at MIT.


Principles and Practice of Science Communication - $10,000

Dr. John Durant, Adjunct Professor, Science, Technology and Society, and Director, MIT Museum

Dr. Durant will develop and expand the new undergraduate class, STS.014 by integrating the class with a bold new community initiative - a citywide Cambridge science festival, to be launched in spring 2007. The science festival will provide the environment for student practical projects. The syllabus of STS.014 will be modified, and class enrollment will be increased to 50. The subject will serve the twin goals of improving MIT students' science communication skills and fostering their (and the Institute's) sense of community service.


Solving Real Problems - $24,455

Professor David Wallace, Mechanical Engineering
Professor Dan Frey, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems Division

Professors Wallace and Frey will develop an innovative subject that will provide freshman with opportunities to: (1) learn design skills and problem solving in a social context; (2) learn technical communication skills while satisfying a communication requirement; and (3) gain experience with hands-on, problem-solving. The subject will combine a scaleable, central core class that teaches problem solving and design skills with several hands-on, project sections where solutions to real-world, public service-oriented problems are designed and implemented. In addition to hands-on project design, the project sections will include technical communication instruction.


Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries - $23,150

Mr. Amos Winter, Graduate Student, and Dr. Amy Smith, Senior Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering

Mr. Winter and Dr. Smith will create a subject to educate MIT students about engineering and cultures in the developing world through the innovation of appropriate wheelchair technology. The students will interact with MIT faculty and wheelchair experts while developing design solutions to better serve the needs of wheelchair users. In the summer following the class, three students will have the option to implement their project in a wheelchair workshop in a developing country.

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