2016-2017 Alumni Class Funds Recipients

Bringing Russian to MIT: Developing Curriculum and Materials for the New Russian Literature Course - $7,970

Maria Khotimsky, Global Studies and Languages

The purpose of this project is to develop a new course in the Department of Global Studies and Literatures entitled “Introduction to the Classics of Russian Literature.” Our plan is to create innovative materials for teaching literature and culture to MIT undergraduates and thereby enrich the Humanities curriculum of SHASS. The course will introduce students to major Russian writers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries whose works hold a universal appeal. It will also create new possibilities for students from diverse academic fields who are interested in becoming international and regional experts, as they will gain an understanding of Russian cultural heritage and its changing and complicated role in contemporary world.


Coastal Ecology Primer for Engineers - $46,242

Chrys Chryssostomidism, Sea Grant in Mechanical Engineering
Juliet Simpson, Sea Grant in Mechanical Engineering
Carolina Bastidas, Sea Grant in Mechanical Engineering

We will develop a hands-on course in coastal ecology for mechanical, civil, and ocean engineering students. This course will have field, lab, and lecture components, and will examine the ecology of coastal systems in New England and explore technological solutions for monitoring them. With climate change, sea level rise, and the continued growth of human populations and infrastructure in coastal zones, there is an increasing need for coastal engineers with a deep and interdisciplinary knowledge of the complex and changing conditions at the land-ocean interface. This course will augment students’ engineering training with a broader understanding of the ecology and biology of marine systems in which they will work.


Computational Fabrication for Makers and Engineers - $44,970

Wojciech Matusik, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Formally designated computational fabrication, 6.807 provides a broad overview of both hardware and software for additive manufacturing. This class aims to develop future engineers who have interdisciplinary knowledge, balancing both computational and physical perspectives. This is accomplished by having programming assignments, complementary hands-on labs, and open- ended group projects. We request the funds for purchasing new additive manufacturing hardware that supports a broad material set and an open-source software architecture. Using these new capabilities, the students will be able to design new computational tools for additive manufacturing and explore a variety of applications at the forefront of education and research.


Experimental Chemistry of Renewable Energy - $49,995

Yogesh Surendranath, Chemistry

A future renewable energy economy will be critically dependent on emerging technologies that allow for the facile interconversion of electrical and chemical energy. In order to enable MIT undergraduate students with the necessary skills to be scientific and technology leaders in this vibrant and dynamic research frontier, we propose to develop a hands>on discovery> science based laboratory module that focuses on experimental electrochemical techniques that form the bedrock of renewable energy storage technologies.


GIR Environment - $32,000

John Fernández, Environmental Solutions Initiative
Amanda Graham, Environmental Solutions Initiative

This project will support the introduction of topics of the environment into a set of GIRs. The motivation is threefold; first, to develop a mechanism for the sustained introduction of topics of the environment to a large proportion of freshman and sophomores; second, to mobilize contributions to the development of early undergraduate curriculum; third, to seed general undergraduate interest in pursuing further studies in environmental subjects. The strategy proposed here is the deployment of problem sets, and possibly other educational material, jointly developed between GIR instructors, TAs and other MIT professors and students, in a select number of GIR subjects in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017. Development work will begin in Spring 2016 and continue through summer and fall.


Hardware Textbooks for Modeling and Control - $33,600

Jacob White, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

We will develop a library of design labs our software GUI/Server/Microcontroller routines, and a new, multi-chapter hardware textbook that is easily constructed from a list of commodity parts and one of our specially-designed dual voltage-to- PWM driver boards (less than $150, about the size of a thick textbook). We plan to cover a "chapter" of the hardware textbook each week, in “half-flipped” classroom style. The technical ideas will be presented in lecture but most of the learning will take place in the end-of-week design labs. Each week we will present students with a different control problem, using copter- levitated arms, magnetic levitation, PWM audio amplifiers, and flexible motor-driven arms, each of which can be set up using the textbook.


Implementing a modern multi-omics approach in experimental molecular genetics project lab (7.15) - $34,825

Jing-Ke Weng, Biology

We will implement a modern multi-omics approach in experimental molecular genetics project lab (7.15). Funds received from the Alumni Class Funds will help transform the way experimental genetics is taught in undergraduate project lab. The students will carry out open-ended independent research projects to investigate genetic pathways in the model worm C. elegans that interact with various drug molecules used in the clinics. The funds will support several state-of-the-art multi-omics analyses that allow students to apply frontier methodologies in studying their own projects. We anticipate the implementation of this innovative approach will significantly enhance students’ learning of modern experimental approaches and engagement in biomedical sciences.


Innovation Diplomats Program - $49,760

Fiona Murray, Sloan School of Management

The Innovation Diplomats (iDiplomats) Program invites MIT students participating in a variety of MIT led global career internships and other globally-oriented projects to add an additional dimension to their experience that is focused on career relevant skills in innovation and diplomacy. It is structured in three stages: In the spring, students participate in training sessions to introduce core Innovation Diplomacy concepts and research the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems of their regions. In the summer, while abroad, students interview key stakeholders to understand and analyse the local ecosystems. In the fall, students summarize and share their findings. Participants receive a $500 stipend to offset the costs of local travel and 9 units of academic credit upon completion.


Landscape Experiences - $6,500

Rebecca Uchill, Center for Art, Science and Technology

Landscape Experience is a Fall, 2016 course that considers the range of ways in which the concept of “Landscape” has developed to describe an array of topographies and art practices in the contemporary United States. The project will support a related summer field trip excursion to the American Southwest, to visit major sites of Land Art, national parks, Native American reservations, and other complex “landscapes” of pilgrimage, preservation, and cultural embattlement. The course will invite guest speakers from a variety of disciplines; in addition, the List Visual Arts Center is currently discussing hosting a public event during which students will present reports on their experiences on this field trip, as an introduction to a panel on the preservation of Land Art works.


Metalogon 2.0: a tool to support oral presentation feedback - $41,915

Andreas Karatsolis, Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Suzanne Lane, Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Recognizing the need of MIT undergraduate students to receive constructive, timely and actionable feedback on their oral presentations, we are pursuing the development of a tool, Metalogon, to allow faculty, TAs, communication instructors and other students give and receive feedback on oral classroom performances. Metalogon, already in prototype form, allows for multi-layered annotations of presentation videos and real-time feedback based on pre-defined categories. It also allows for the annotation of professional models or previous student examples, with commentary and indexing features through the use of a Wiki. Given the importance of effective presentation skills for the professionalization of our students, we believe such a tool can be a critical addition for MIT pedagogy.


Music Dictation Web Application - $45,000

Garo William Saraydarian, Music and Theater Arts

A web application that follows a growth-based model in developing aural dictation skills - writing down music without the aid of an instrument. Through this application students will be able to notate the underlying structure of a piece of music using a converstational methodology that creates a continous feedback loop and allows students to self-differentiate. This will add a blended component to teaching music that will enhance physical class time, allowing the teacher and students to focus on those aspects of music making that require ensemble work while building on the content they have learned outside the classroom during the week.


A New Course on Disaster Response and Preparedness - $47,049

Miho Mazereeuw, Architecture
Adam Norige, Lincoln Labs

This new interdisciplinary course explores innovative solutions for disaster response and preparedness. Case studies and game‐ based exercises will provide an overview of how recent disasters have unfolded; including operating environments, challenges, response communities and how those have led to increased resilience. The class will investigate one specific hazard for the final projects through hands‐on prototyping, encouraging system‐oriented design while covering communications, sensing, power and data analysis. Fall of 2016, the class will address earthquakes and speak with experts in Nepal (Response) and San Francisco (Preparedness). 2017 will address hurricanes. The course will become a global resource for open source prototyping projects, analysis methods and on‐line lectures.


A New Undergraduate Course on "Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Legal Tools and Frameworks" - $23,791

John Akula, Sloan School of Management

The course focus would be law-sensitive aspects of (i) the institutional framework of scientific and technological innovation; and (ii) the main pathways from innovation to positive social impact, including commercial and social entrepreneurship, and pathways involving the non-profit, professional and government sectors. This would enrich the undergraduate curriculum because (i) there is growing need for law-related resources at MIT and a shortage of such resources; and (ii) law-sensitive decisions are a vehicle for cultivating broad judgment skills in technologically-savvy students, and thoughtful consideration of ethics and values. The course structure would involve an innovative mix of (i) on-line and in-class materials; and (ii) experiential learning through hands-on simulations.


Redesigning the Neurophysiology Experience in the School of Engineering - $30,511

Thomas Heldt, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

This project will support the redesign of 6.021 Cellular Biophysics and Neurophysiology, which is the major gateway into neurophysiology in the School of Engineering and is cross-listed with Mechanical Engineering, Biological Engineering, and the HST Program. The primary focus of the redesign is the development and implementation of a new electrophysiology laboratory to allow students to acquire compound action potential recordings directly from a major nerve of an appropriately chosen animal preparation. Additionally, we will redesign an existing software laboratory by transitioning to an open-source simulator that is now widely used in education and research. Finally, restructuring of the lecture material will allow for the development of six new lectures.


Use of extensional rheometry to investigate the properties of non-Newtonian fluids - $32,500

Benedetto Marelli, Civil and Environmental Engineering

To enable our engineers to develop in-depth grasp of the complex physical behavior of fluids, we propose, with the support of the Alumni Class Fund, to introduce laboratory activities in a range of undergraduate classes in fluid dynamics offered in Engineering and Science at MIT. These laboratory activities will be enabled by the acquisition of a state-of-the-art instrument aimed at analyzing and quantifying extensional flow properties. We aim to provide students with a characterization tool that can foster active learning in one of the most demanding, yet seldom covered, topic in fluid dynamics: the behavior of non-Newtonian fluids.


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