Current Projects

The Call for Preliminary Proposals in Fall 2016 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:

Mobile Modular Makerspaces (M3) for the Freshman Seminars and Beyond

Martin Culpepper and Jonathan Hunt

The Mobile Modular Makerspaces (M3) bring elements of traditional makerspaces to the students anywhere on campus to enable hands on learning for a class or an event. The innovative M3 carts will enable realization and experimentation by freshman during their freshman seminars and will have impact far beyond. The proposed project will utilize undergraduate and graduate students to design and build custom mobile carts with low risk and highly useful maker technologies.

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Computational Thinking in Emphasizing Modeling and Data

Daniel Frey, Tony Patera, Peko Hosoi, Seth Lloyd, and Franz Hover

We propose to map out the current position of computational thinking in the Mechanical Engineering Department and pilot curricular materials that can help course 2 students get the most benefit from new structures within the GIRs. The proposed work will include evolution of a current MIT subject “2.086 – Numerical Computation for Mechanical Engineers” to ensure it delivers on the objectives described for a computational thinking GIR and does so in a way well-suited to our discipline. The project also includes piloting elements of a new 6 unit freshman-level subject that might serve as a preferred option for students planning to join course 2. We also want to map out computational thinking in ME core subjects and evaluate the skill levels of current course 2 students.

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Computational Thinking in 15.053

James Orlin

This project concerns enhancements to 15.053 Optimization Methods in Business Analytics. This project has five objectives: to increase the focus on computational thinking as a fundamental aspect of the course, move much of the lecture part of the course to edX studio so that the lectures can use blended learning, develop a collection of online exercises (using edX Studio) so that students can make sure that they are understanding basic concepts correctly, develop many additional Excel spreadsheets for optimization as well as Jupyter notebooks using Julia and JuMP for optimization, and develop extensive supporting materials so that interested students can learn additional topics in optimization beyond what is taught in the course.

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Medical Narratives: Compelling Stories from Antiquity to Grey's Anatomy

Margery Resnick and Joaquin Terrones

This course will be part of the SHASS "Global Health and Medical Humanities" initiative. Through readings of classical, medieval, and contemporary texts, and the study of film, drama and television, students will acquire a sophisticated historical and cultural understanding of the metaphors surrounding illness and disease and their impact in the real world. Students will actively engage with practitioners of both medicine and its narration. They will be able to situate these medical narratives within broader international debates about treatment, standards of care and the ethics of medical decisions. By approaching these materials and debates from both patients' and physicians' perspectives, students will gain a prismatic vision of the field across time, place and position.

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Time and Frequency Resolved Spectroscopy: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Photosynthesis

Gabriela Schlau-Cohen

The goal of this proposal is to develop an undergraduate, interdisciplinary lab module centered on photosynthesis. MIT has taken steps to introduce an interdisciplinary perspective with programs such as the joint 5/7 major and the MITEI Energy Studies minor. However, much of the coursework still falls within traditional disciplinary boundaries, therefore, MIT urgently needs a new laboratory module that simultaneously leverages knowledge from multiple fields. The proposed module on photosynthesis addresses two critical gaps; the module is designed to span traditional boundaries within the sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) and between sciences and humanities (combining technical knowledge and communication skills), enabling an integrated, inquiry-based approach.

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Philosophy and the Arts

Bradford Skow

I propose to create a new subject on philosophy and the arts. Faculty from other sections, for example Literature and Music, will visit the class; the goal is to put different disciplines' perspectives on, for example, the constraints on interpreting literature, or the nature of the expression of emotion in music, in dialogue. The class will apply the philosophical ideas discussed to art seen in a museum visit, or heard in a musical performance. The subject will also aim to think through connections between art and technology, by asking how technology has changed how we appreciate art, and also whether a piece of technology like a computer can itself be a work of art.

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Creating a New Concentration in Negotiation and Leadership

Lawrence Susskind and Bruno Verdini

Based on student demand for semester-long subjects that teach skills in negotiation and leadership through a pedagogy that is highly interactive and involves tailored coaching, we propose to lead the collaborative efforts to create an interdisciplinary MIT-wide Concentration in Negotiation and Leadership. The Concentration (which we hope would be approved by the faculty committee that oversees the MIT-wide HASS requirement) will offer MIT undergraduates practical skills and personal insights applicable to any profession through an interactive and hands-on approach to instruction. As part of the Concentration, we will create an Advanced Negotiation and Leadership course.

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