2012-2013 Funded Projects

Back-story Project for Forty-Three Orders of Magnitude - $6,000

Janet M. Conrad, Physics

The 8.226 class will produce a brochure, or program, to accompany an exhibit of photographs of particle physics experiments at the MIT museum. The black and white photographs, from the book Time Machine by Stanley Greenberg, depict experiments across five continents. Each student's article will describe the "back-story" behind a selected photograph. The assignment requires the students to interview at least one physicist working on the experiment in the photograph in order to find the story. The six best articles will be chosen for the brochure for MIT museum visitors. The opportunity for publication will motivate high quality writing. The brochures will provide an example for funding requests to foundations for future 8.226 projects.

D-Lab Study Abroad: Furthering MIT’s Mission To Provide Global Experiences - $30,944

Amy Smith and Rebecca Smith, D-Lab

A pilot program for a new model of study abroad, this program furthers the D-Lab mission of developing innovative technologies to address the needs of underserved communities. In this model, the students not only have a semester-long international experience, but also enroll in classes at MIT and are actively engaged as a remote participants of a design team providing unique insights through fieldwork and end-user engagement that are normally lacking in US-based design classes focusing on the developing world. A successful pilot of this model would encourage others at the Institute to think critically on how they too might allow students who are not on-campus to take part in their courses, and how this could enrich the overall classroom experience of all students.

Ethnography Online - $30,000

Susan Silbey and Graham Jones, Anthropology

Ethnography Online will develop the materials, skill building exercises, and interactivity of our newly designed fieldwork workshops as an online module. Transferring some of our expertise to online media will help incorporate anthropological modes of analyzing culture and knowledge about diverse cultures more integrally into other subjects rather than remain isolated within Anthropology classes. Thus, cultural analyses can be incorporated into students' work, for example, in particular occupations and kinds of work (e.g. engineering, science) or organizations (corporations, cities, laboratories). We plan to use and contribute to the learning and resources produced through the MITx project, and collaborate with other programs and projects around the Institute where possible.

"Flipping" the Once and Future City - $25,000

Anne Whiston Spirn, Urban Studies and Planning and Architecture

The Once and Future City is an undergraduate HASS-Cl class (4.211J/11.016J). The goal of this project is to "flip" what now takes place in the classroom, transmission of information, with what the students now do alone, employing that information to discover solutions. This project will translate all of Anne Spirn's lectures into richly illustrated multimedia videos and create new online multimedia video tutorials on key concepts and skills. This will free up 16 class sessions for working together on collective projects, walking out of the classroom to study phenomena in situ. This project will test these new online materials in the spring of 2013. It will also produce a manual on how to develop multimedia tutorials and convert lectures to multimedia videos.

Freshman Elective on Engineering Innovation and Design - $19,880

Joel Schindall, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Blade Kotelly, Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program

In 2009, the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program (GELP) developed a very successful 9 unit course on Engineering Innovation and Design that focuses on "design thinking" and is based on inputs from over 30 successful and creative engineers from a variety of industries. Ratings are high, and self/efficacy is enhanced. Joel Schindall and Blade Kotelly propose to tailor this course for freshman and to incorporate talks by faculty from various departments to illustrate "mechanical design thinking," chemical engineering design thinking, etc. The goal is to help freshman to (1) understand the fundamental design thinking of the various engineering disciplines, (2) work more effectively in groups, (3) select their major, and (4) synthesize their technical courses into an overall domain of design.

Improvisation Intensives - $6,800

Mark S. Harvey, Music and Theater Arts

Improvisation Intensives is a project integral to the subject Musical Improvisation which has a revised course description and which I will teach for the first time in the spring of 2013. The project entails close interaction with students by four artist-­‐teachers and their ensembles. Rather than one-­‐time guest lectures, the format fosters intensive collaboration and learning. It is hoped that OpenCourseWare will videotape some of these sessions so that the educational value may be shared widely. It is also hoped that this format may be used in other music courses at MIT, moving such an idea from an experimental phase to one that can be replicated in other Music and Theater Arts Section offerings.

NASA Innovative Mars Habitat Design Workshop @ MIT Summer 2012 - $30,072

Olivier de Weck, Aeronautics and Astronautics

This project aims to team undergraduate and high school students together in a highly collaborative, concurrent engineering environment aimed at developing innovative solutions to the challenge of supporting a crew of 6 astronauts on Mars for 500 days. The project will occur over the summer and fall of 2012, starting with a 1 week workshop held at MIT. Following this, the MIT students will work along-side high school teachers, as project managers for their teams, each consisting of 5-6 high school students for every undergraduate student. This will occur in collaboration with subject matter experts from NASA and academia, who will be connected via a virtual platform. This project will also develop teaching content which will evolve into an undergraduate course on Space Logistics.

NB 2.0: The Crowdsourced Textbook - $11,513

David Karger, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

NB is a system that allows students to collaboratively mark-­‐up online lecture materials (lecture notes, slides, primary sources) with discussion, questions, and clarifications. Its early use at MIT has revealed the potential for a Crowdsourced Textbook that helps the teacher leverage student participation to improve the textbook and their course. Teachers need to determine where students are focusing their attention, identify what material is particularly confusing or interesting, and collect advice from students on how to improve the content. This project aims to improve the teacher's ability to gather explicit and implicit feedback on what is not working in their teaching materials, and help them exploit that information to make improvements.

Numerical Fluid Dynamics: An Interactive Text - $26,400

Glenn Flierl and Christopher Hill; Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Pierre Lermusiaux, Mechanical Engineering

This project proposes to design and begin populating an interactive textbook on numerical fluid dynamics, the long-term goal being to provide students with new and unique mind-and-hand experiences in computational modeling and virtual fluid labs. The project will advance i-text technology in 3 ways. (1) The text itself will be developed within a LaTeX/ PDF based "wiki" so that students in a class or doing research can alter and share sections with others; the faculty can incorporate changes permanently. (2) The examples - e.9., plots, experimenting with parameters, coding, and 3D fluid simulations - will run on a common platform with the user needing only a browser. (3) The i-text will be provided on virtual machines on our servers or in the "cloud." The open-source approach fits well with MlTx.

Rethinking World Music: A New Approach to 21M.030 - $23,806

Patricia Tang, George Ruckert, and Evan Ziporyn; Music and Theater Arts

The goal of this project is to rethink the course 21M.030 (Introduction to World Music), which has outgrown its current framework and resources. It is in need of serious restructuring. For the past decade, the class has been taught as a single section or two independent sections per term taught by different instructors with little coordination between sections. Instructors Patricia Tang, George Ruckert and Evan Ziporyn will re-imagine the goals, content, and structure of the course with the aim of creating a new team-taught format. Not only will this give greater cohesion to the course content, but it also will allow the course to accommodate the growing demand from students while retaining small recitation sections for discussion and hands-on music-making that are so integral to the course's success.

Teaching Experimental Design in 2.007 - $20,000

Daniel D. Frey, Mechanical Engineering

This project proposes to undertake substantial changes in lectures and in one-on-one coaching within the course “2.007 – Design and Manufacturing I”. The focus will be on experimental design: the discipline of structuring a sequence of investigations (bench experiments and computer models) for the purpose of creating and refining a machine design. On this topic, there are presently major research efforts underway, especially at the Singapore-MIT International Design Center. This creates potential for a two-way flow of information and benefits – 2.007 can bring in new insights from research in experimental design, and researchers can benefit from exposure to the design processes of 2.007 students.

VirtualProtocols – Seeing Science in a New Direction - $13,360

Bevin Engelward, Biological Engineering
George Zaidan, MIT Alumnus
Ciaran O’Broin, Tanagram, Inc.

Training the next generation of scientists is at the core of all life science laboratories, and is, of course, the central focus of MIT's laboratory courses. Currently, new scientists learn primarily by watching more experienced colleagues, which requires significant time for the instructor. Here, we propose to develop 'VirtualProtocols'. A novel hardware and software combination platform will be developed and distributed to create 3D videos, giving the viewer the experience of looking over the shoulder of the experimentalist. This tool could be used for students to preview experiments to be done in laboratory courses and UROP research. The VirtualProtocols approach could have a major impact on research training at MIT and beyond.

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