Current Projects

The Call for Preliminary Proposals in Fall 2017 focused on enhancements of subjects in the first-year curriculum and within the General Institute Requirements (GIRs), and projects aimed at enriching faculty-student interactions in the residence-based curriculum. Proposals receiving d'Arbeloff funding include:

Coding the GIRs

W. Craig Carter, Kyle Keane, and Peter Dourmashkin

CodeSeal is a set of software tools that introduces students to coding in the context of what they are learning in their traditional subjects. While learning new concepts in science, math, or the arts, students concurrently construct algorithmic models, develop numerical and symbolic code, and create visualizations of those new concepts. This project identifies and catalogues 3-4 computational activities for students to build their algorithmic reasoning within the context of the physics GIRs and does some exploratory work for future extensions into math and chemistry.

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Digital Humanities II: Integrating computational thinking into the humanities curriculum

Kurt Fendt and Ed Schiappa

This proposal seeks to develop, teach, and assess Digital Humanities II (DHII), a new projectbased subject in CMSW over the course of 18 months. DHII extends and refines the existing Digital Humanities I subject (CMS633/833) to form a two semester long core Digital Humanities curriculum in SHASS. Goal is to familiarize MIT students with computational thinking within a humanities context and engage them in algorithmic reasoning while also developing critical analysis and reasoning skills in the humanities. DHII uses a combination of collaborative class projects using real world humanities data and tailored theoretical readings to help students develop an understanding of new modes of computationally driven humanities scholarship, practice data manipulation, representation, and communication to diverse audiences, and stimulate a multidisciplinary approach to solving real-world problems.

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The Convergence of Synthetic and Polymer Chemistry: A New Foundational URIECA Module

Jeremiah Johnson and Christina Rotsides

The goal of this project is to develop a new module for the Undergraduate Research Inspired Experimental Chemistry Alternatives (URIECA) laboratory courses within the Department of Chemistry, and equip this module with state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art instrumentation to enhance the undergraduate learning experience. This module is driven by a strong need to update the URIECA curriculum to better reflect the convergence of traditional chemistry with a range of next-­‐generation technologies that specifically will require the synthesis of novel molecules and materials to address human needs. Thus, a module that combines aspects of “traditional” small molecule organic synthesis with current trends in materials chemistry, specifically the synthetic chemistry of precision polymers, is greatly needed. This proposal seeks funding to support the new module primarily by helping to acquire instrumentation that is foundational to a well-­‐rounded training in organic synthesis and polymer chemistry.

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An Introduction to Experimental Biochemistry for First-Year Students Department/Lab/

Dennis Kim

This project focuses on the development of laboratory course in fundamental methods and concepts of experimental biochemistry for first-year undergraduate students at MIT. The proposed 6-unit course would meet during Fall and Spring semesters and be centered around small student groups working in the laboratory and having discussions with faculty and instructional staff. We anticipate that the development of such a course will facilitate first-year interactions between students and faculty, provide a “hands-on” experience to complement courses in the GIR science core, and serve as a solid foundation from which to pursue UROPs at MIT.

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Computational Thinking in MIT Junior Lab

Gunther Roland

We propose to enhance the education of MIT physics majors in MIT Junior Lab through the development of hardware modules and MITx learning modules that introduce state-of-the-art scientific computational techniques and approaches in the context of particle physics experiments. These elements will be deployed in both the student-defined exploratory 8.14 projects, and in one or multiple future “regular” 8.14 and 8.13 experiments. This will fill a significant gap in the current educational opportunities for our physics majors, providing them with tools essential for many career paths in experimental science and elsewhere.

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Proposal for Mathematics with Python Programming: A Mutually Reinforcing Curriculum

Leigh Royden, Jeremy Orloff

We propose an experiment, conducted by the Experimental Study Group (ESG), to introduce Python programming to the basic curriculum of differential equations (18.03). The proposed three-­‐year project will begin with a one-­‐year development phase carried out by ESG lecturers, faculty director, and undergraduate assistants (through UROP). In year two we will introduce a 6-­‐unit seminar run concurrently with ES.1803 (Introduction to Differential Equations at ESG), taught for two terms. In year three this will evolve into a 15-­‐unit course that integrates the basic programming and differential equations components. Curriculum development will be undertaken in consultation with faculty from the Mathematics department and other departments in the school of engineering, ensuring the material is useful for majors throughout MIT and, ideally, a model for other schools.

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Hands-on Devices: Build Transistors in Your Kitchen

Max Shulaker

“Hands-­‐on Devices: Build Transistors in Your Kitchen” is designed to introduce, for the first time, a lab-­‐component to 6.012, a key class within EECS and at the core of electrical engineering. This lab is meant to re-­‐invent semiconductor device education from its current status as a theoretical, abstract concept (both at MIT and the vast majority of schools) into an experimental and tangible discipline. Students perform the daunting task of transforming a blank silicon wafer into working transistors and circuits -­‐ using nothing more than their hands and standard equipment found around a home or garage. This lab gives many students a once-­‐in-­‐a-­‐lifetime experience and exposure to nanotechnology, while simultaneously demonstrating the efficacy of their educational accomplishments by relating concepts taught in class to real-­‐world, impactful applications.

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