2014-2015 Alumni Class Funds Recipients

A Module on Laplace Transform - $10,788

Haynes Miller and Jeremy Orloff, Mathematics

This project will develop the syllabus and courseware for a short course or module focused on the mathematics underlying basic continuous control theory: Laplace transform, generalized functions, weight and transfer functions. This will be run first as an IAP for credit course, and then formulated as an autonomous online module hosted by MITx.


An Interactive Class on Real-Life Applications of Mathematical Ideas - $15,000

Scott Sheffield, Choongbum Lee, and Peter Kempthorne, Mathematics

This project addresses the development of significant teaching resources and curriculum enhancements for Mathematics Subject 18.S096, Topics in Mathematics with Applications to Finance. The class is a new initiative in the Mathematics Department founded under the vision of advancing the math learning experience of students at MIT by offering real-life applications of mathematical ideas in industry, thereby exhibiting the mutual interaction between modern mathematical research and realGlife problems.


Developing Online Communication Instruction in Engineering Laboratory CI-M Subjects - $4,000

Suzanne Lane, Writing Across the Curriculum
Clark Colton, Chemical Engineering
Donald Sadoway, Materials Science and Engineering
Andreas Karatsolis, Writing Across the Curriculum
Howard Silver, MIT Libraries
Felice Frankel, Center for Materials Science and Engineering

Students in all disciplines need strong communication skills and MIT’s Communication Requirement provides the framework for detailed communication instruction and feedback. However, communication instruction requires more class time than is available in communication­intensive subjects in the majors (CI-Ms), and more coherence between the multiple CI­Ms in a department. We propose to design, implement, and pilot an integrated system of in-class instruction and online communication modules in two Engineering labs (3.014 and 10.26), and subsequently incorporate the same framework in other CI­M subjects. This project will develop the online modules which will help students analyze authentic texts from their field and engage in interactive activities for practice and feedback.


Development of an Interactive Biological Chemistry Laboratory based on Diabetes - $38,657

Bradley Lether Pentelute, Chemistry

An urgent and unmet need exists in the chemistry department to develop a new chemical biology module. Modules are the laboratory component of the chemistry undergraduate program, are independent of lecture courses, and are inspired by technologies and research currently underway at MIT. Current and past undergraduates have expressed a strong interest and desire for more training in chemical biology. Because the traditional boundaries between disciplines are becoming increasingly diffuse, this project will help train and educate chemists and others for future cutting-edge careers.


Development of an Inquiry-based Curriculum for the Introductory Biology Laboratory Course 7.02 - $30,000

Ayce Yesilaltay, Vanessa Cheung, Laurie Boyer, Mary Gehring, Piyush Gupta,
and Thomas Schwartz, Biology

This projects will combine the two currently unrelated major modules of the 7.02 into a single inquiry-based unit where the initial aspect of the research will be shaped by student input. Students learn best and retain more when the lab experiments have a single overarching goal and when they get to contribute to the research direction. As part of the revised curriculum, students will analyze a human protein involved in cancer and determine which mutations they will study in this protein. The revision will include introduction of cutting edge techniques in order to keep abreast with the most recent advances in biology. We hope these progressive changes will elevate overall student enthusiasm, engage a larger number of students and enhance the learning experience in the class.


Global Engineering: Upgrade for Undergrads - $40,000

Amos Winter, Mechanical Engineering

This project modifies the Course 2 Global Engineering class to include curriculum geared towards undergraduates. Global Engineering teaches students about the rigorous technical and socioeconomic factors that are critical to designing technologies for developing/emerging markets. Students work in teams to create new technologies in partnership with international stakeholders. The educational objective of the course is to train global engineers who have the tools required to understand, tackle, and solve challenging technical problems in the developing and developed world. The proposed upgrades to Global Engineering will make it a CI-M class that seniors can choose as their design capstone. This will lead to UROPs, theses, and international careers for MIT undergraduates.


Global Health and the Medical Humanities - $15,939

Erica Caple James, Anthropology

This project seeks to support the phased establishment in SHASS of an initiative on “Global Health and the Medical Humanities” (GHMH) that may eventually become a SHASS minor that sits in Anthropology. It is my hope that this initial GHMH endeavor will anchor, and form a branch of, a future interdisciplinary and Institute-wide “Center for Global Health Initiatives at MIT.” The proposed GHMH initiative would combine critical examinations of global health with classical approaches to the medical humanities through a number of existing and new courses, extracurricular events, and eventually, collaborative interdisciplinary research and teaching opportunities, in order to build community and capacity among MIT faculty, students, and staff members who are engaging these topics.


Hands On NMR for MIT Students - $16,250

John Dolhun, Chemistry

This project makes the NMR available to all MIT students who take courses in the Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory. The project includes purchasing a new benchtop 60MHz NMR spectrometer. The new portable NMR spectrometer is the size of a shoe box and weighing only 45lbs can be moved in the lab and set up in minutes where it will be needed for an experiment. Unlike other large 300MHz instruments this machine requires no weekly maintenance and no cooling with liquid He and liquid N2.


Incorporating State-of-the-Art Analytical Instrumentation in the
MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering Teaching Laboratory - $23,105

Benjamin Kocar, Civil and Environmental Engineering

This project will acquire a microwave digestion and solvent extraction system for the Ralph M. Parsons undergraduate teaching laboratory, department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). This instrument will greatly expand the capacity to analyze contaminants, nutrients, and other inorganic and organic constituents in a variety of natural and engineered systems. Specifically, it will allow undergraduates to analyze solid samples (not limited to soils, sediments, and biological tissues) with our pre-existing analytical equipment, including an ICP-MS and GC-MS. It will enable them to obtain high quality data from field samples with high throughput, and will expose them to cutting-edge sample preparation techniques widely used in academia, industry, and government laboratories.


Javascript Applets: Engineering Design and Calculus Concepts - $21,866

David Jerison and Jennifer French, Mathematics

A series of interactive, automatically gradable, javascript applets will be created for 18.01. They will support the learning of graphical calculus concepts, and aid the exploration of engineering design principles. By incorporating a challenge into the course around designing a safe and effective zip-line, we will explore related engineering examples that use ideas from a variety of fields. The goal is to increase retention and transfer of calculus content to other contexts and disciplines. By integrating difficult graphing concepts and engineering examples into javascript applets, we can embed them and grade them using the MITx platform, providing students with immediate feedback. These data also allow us to analyze our design and the alignment with specified learning outcomes.


Joint Military Simulator - $15,500

Steven Benke, Naval ROTC
Theodore Weibel, Airforce ROTC
Adam Edwards, Army ROTC

This project will convert the ROTC Conference Room (W59-164) to the Joint Military Simulator (JMS) room. The JMS purpose will focus primarily on Leadership along with Command & Control simulations and less on specific technical capabilities or skills. The goal of the JMS would be to enable cadets and midshipmen from all services to experience military-unique simulations that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. This project will enhance the ROTC experience for all cadets and midshipmen ensuring that MIT continues to produce America’s top military officers.


Literature from Anywhere - $14,395

Mary Fuller, Literature

Literature from Anywhere (21LS88, 9 units, HASS-E) is an experimental, nine-unit subject designed primarily for students who will be off-campus during spring semester. Over IAP, we provide an intensive introduction to the material, its contexts, and analytic tools for reading (in this case) poetry. This year, the topic is John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. During S14, students complete the reading on their own, collaborate on a “reader's guide” of questions, images, ideas, and resources, and assemble a reflective video on their learning experience. The project's objectives include designing and documenting a new pedagogical model, creating a MIT-student’s-eye guide to an important and canonical poem, and empowering students as peer-teachers who have mastery and ownership of their learning.


New Models and Modeling as Practice - $18,000

Gediminas Urbonas and Mariel Villere, Architecture

This project supports a Fall 2014 studio/seminar course for undergraduate and graduate students across all schools and majors with the theme “New Models and Modeling as Practice”. Engaging interdisciplinary thought, “the model” will be used for knowledge production and communication of ideas, often complicated and discipline specific, to new audiences. Through creation, students investigate the explanatory model as an innovative tool to translate and express a conception – of sound, a scientific phenomenon, the natural world, a scientific formula, or data – into a spatial object. Ultimately, the course aims to enable disciplines to learn from each other through various expressions, encouraging a long lasting pedagogical mode for teaching and learning at MIT between science and art.


Self-defense Education - $3,500

David Hagymas, DAPER

The project will enhance and continue a self defense course offered for points toward Physical Education GIR. New equipment and refined pedagogy is available that requires re-certification. With statistics being 25 percent of women in this age range being assaulted the benefits of such training can't be underestimated. This will support an invaluable experiential education course that complements MIT efforts of DSL’s Sexual Assault Awareness program and other efforts by the Violence Prevention and Resource at Community Wellness of MIT Medical to combat the 30-60 reported sexual assualts to our students annually. This grant would go towards enhancing the self-defense curriculum and maintaining the course for MIT students.


Sensor Networks and the "Smart Campus": A New Capstone for CEE - $40,000

Colette Heald and Jesse Kroll, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The field of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) spans a wide range of cutting-edge topics related to sustainability in the built and natural environments. To match this level of innovation in CEE undergraduate education at MIT, we are developing a new senior capstone course focused on pervasive sensing. The class addresses themes in CEE by designing and deploying state-of-the-art sensor networks for MIT’s campus. Data from these networks will be accessible online, in real-time, for both researchers and the wider public. This project will support Year 2 of the development of this new capstone as well as the specific networks to be designed in Year 2, aimed at monitoring the emissions footprint and structural health of the MIT campus.


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