Past Projects

3.003 Principles of Engineering Practice

L.C. Kimerling, Anant Agarwal, E.A. Fitzgerald, Randolf Kirchain, William Uricchio, Fred Salvucci, Chris Weaver, Silvija Gradecak, Christina Ortiz

Principles of Engineering Practice is a project-based subject taught in the Spring Semester. In its second year, the subject introduces students to three threads of learning with which to de-construct the apparent complexities of Big Engineering projects: large-scale, modern engineering ventures that rely on the integration of multiple science/engineering disciplines, executed through a distributed workload that involves specialized team interacting over an extended production time. The goal of the subject is to instill in first-year students an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of massive 21st century engineering projects and to equip them with the motivation and skills to engage in them. The three threads of learning are: technical toolkit, social science toolkit and a methodology for problem-based learning.

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6.002 iLab

Jesus del Alamo

Online laboratories (iLabs) are experimental facilities that allow students to carry out experiments from anywhere at any time. While used since Fall 2005 in the EECS subject 6.002, the new EECS curriculum reduces that number of units for 6.002 requiring that new iLab experiences be developed to mitigate the loss of experimental exercises in the new curriculum. Instrument upgrades are funded for three purposes: proper input for step-response measurement; increasing measurement capacity in two dimensions through a hardware switching matrix; developing new circuits-under test for iLab. These changes may make iLab a valuable educational tool for feedback and control system courses in other disciplines at both the introductory and advanced levels. Funded by Class of 1960

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Active Learning in 3.091: The Goodie Bag

Jeffrey Grossman

This past fall (2015), I had the opportunity to build on the dynamic, enthusiastic, and rigorous curriculum for 3.091 (Introduction to Solid State Chemistry). My intent was to leverage the traditional format – blackboard lectures, practice problems worked in recitation, 3 in-class midterms plus a final, weekly quizzes and homework sets – with hands-on activities designed in the spirit of Mens et Manus. MIT’s motto embodies much about the later curriculum in Course 3 (and others), but freshmen chemistry courses have historically existed outside this pedagogical methodology. As such, I assembled a team to design and execute “goodie bags” for each student in 3.091 to take home in order to “touch and feel” the chemistry. These are not labs, rather a hands-on mini-experiment intended to bring key elements of the material to life, serve as a visual compliment to the conceptual elements, and enhance both individual and collaborative “discovery based” learning moments that cannot be predicted. The aim of the goodie bags is to foster exploration, reinforce abstract concepts with tangible actions, and engage students with different learning experiences.

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Alumni Engagement

Andy Eisenmann and Maria Shkolnik

Alumni Engagement thus is a program to provide a central resource at MIT dedicated to catalyzing alumni educational connections on a larger scale, both on-campus and globally, and to assist faculty and promote greater alumni participation in the educational work of MIT for undergraduate and graduate students. Current efforts include: "12.000 - Solving Complex Problems," "8.224 - Exploring Black Holes," and "BioMatrix."

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Art as Intervention: Creative Responses in Contested Spaces, Conflict and Crisis

Ute Meta Bauer, Nitin Sawhney

This project proposes to enhance the undergraduate experience in service learning through a new course "Art as Intervention – Creative Responses," specifically developed to create a bridge between the arts, humanities and social sciences. The goal of this course is to provide MIT undergraduate students and faculty a pedagogical platform to critically engage in issues of social change, service learning and collaborative projects on the field. Each term the topic addresses a different thematic aspect including how artistic practice can creatively intervene in everyday public discourses, but also in marginalized or contested spaces in local and global contexts. As part of the course the instructors seek to assess the value of combining hands-on artistic practice and critical reflection for the undergraduate experience at MIT.

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The Art of the Probable: Literature and Probability

Alvin Kibel, Noel Jackson, Shankar Raman

This collaboratively taught subject for first year students will explore the relationship of literature with the history of probability. As the authors write in their proposal, "we wish students to think deeply about the broader conditions underlying the science and technology they study, as well as to make apparent the relevance of les sciences humaine to their lives." They hope to engage students "in studying a topic that visibly or invisibly affects all of us all the time." This new subject will be offered in the Spring of 2007.

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Biological Circuit Engineering Laboratory (BioCEL) - A New Course Proposal

Timothy Lu, Rahul Sarpeshkar

This project will develop an innovative new course to train students in the computational and experimental aspects of the emerging discipline of synthetic biology. Unlike traditional engineering disciplines, the principles which guide the operation of biological systems involve parallelized systems and the messy guiding hand of evolution. In electrical systems, individual components can be isolated from each other, connected only through defined physical wires, and replicated to create complex digital processing. In contrast, biological systems are "wired" via chemical interactions and thus require orthogonal biochemical parts. Furthermore, there are fundamental limits to the number of parts that can be encoded in a single cell which means that the digital abstraction restricts the maximum level of complexity that can be achieved. Thus, in biological circuit design, there are multiple layers that need to be addressed, ranging from fundamental part creation to modeling and to higher-level design abstractions. These are integrated concepts that the proposed course aims to address, as they are not currently being taught to students at MIT or around the country in a cohesive form.

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Biomatrix: A Mentoring Program

Martha Gray and Richard Mitchel

BioMatrix is a mentoring program for anyone interested in issues related to life sciences and engineering. The program brings together a community of students, clinicians, researchers, and other and industry professionals and faculty who have made their way through education, training and the many decisions involved related to career choice.  

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A Bootstrapping Approach to Teaching Statistics

Roy Welsch

This subject is designed as a 6-unit statistics SME foundations subject that does not necessarily depend on the prior teaching of probability. An innovative approach that starts and ends with data and is based on the statistical method of boostrapping (resampling) will be developed. Included in the subject are topics such as sampling, visualization, and statistical computing culminating in the basic ideas of statistical thinking and criticism allowing the student to be skeptical of data analyses that seem to violate statistical principles. Students will be able to perform basic data analysis and visualization tasks by the end of the subject.

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Building a Constructive Culture

Natalie Kuldell, Ken Oye, Randy Rettberg

This subject, first taught in Spring, 2008, is a project-based introduction to biological engineering designed for lst-year undergraduates. Future biological engineers will need a strong foundation in the life sciences in order to analyze and understand existing living systems. Equally essential is the ability to use methods that enable the reliable design and construction of engineered biological systems that behave as expected. Students who are learning how to engineer life must be aware of the promises and challenges posed by such work. This new subject will motivate students to master discipline-specific knowledge in context and apply their energies to solve a personally compelling design challenge.

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The Catalyst Collaborative@MIT

Alan Brody

This project is conceived to design and implement a sustainable model for the development and production of plays about science with the students at MIT, science and theater faculty, and professional theater artists from the Underground Railway Theater (URT) and the greater Boston area. The inclusion of area artists will be through The Catalyst Collaborative@MIT (CC@MIT), an established collaboration between MIT and URT. Participants will include science and theater faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and, in cooperation with the MIT Museum, the public at large. With the guidance of a collaborating playwright and scientist, the students will develop a play or series of short plays that deal with the subject and produce a workshop production for the campus community. During the course of this project, students will assist the playwright in his or her research while learning to transmute scientific research into theatrical terms.

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Centering Africa in Diaspora: Introduction to Black Studies

Sandy Alexandre, Alisa Braithwaite, Christopher Capozzola, Thomas DeFrantz, Michel de Graff, Erica James, Helen Elaine Lee

Constructed as an interdisciplinary survey, this interdisciplinary SHASS freshman experience will explore experiences of people of African descent in diaspora through overlapping disciplinary approaches including history, linguistics, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, and creative writing. Connections will be drawn between African American experiences and other minoritarian American social, political and cultural histories.

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Diane Davis

This new subject, to be offered in the Spring of 2007, is designed to "expose first year students to the complex system dynamics of cities 'at risk' and to encourage them to use physical design, social policy, engineering, technology, or other social and science innovations to assess and solve problems in urban environments." A pre-session trip to New Orleans during IAP is included in the plans for this subject. Students will work on solutions to the city's problems using first-hand knowledge and various interdisciplinary techniques.

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The Collaboration Toolbox

Clark Colton and Bonnie Burrell

The Collaboration Tool Box is designed to provide a focus for students to learn the basics of collaboration and team building through a Web-based interactive team development system for student. The program permits the faculty to create a team building syllabus with the accompanying curriculum, which can be integrated into a course that utilizes team projects or two-student collaborations.

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NB: Collaborative Annotation and Discussion of Online Lecture Notes

David R. Karger

NB is a tool that enables and encourages students and faculty to collaboratively author and discuss questions, comments, and answers in the margins of online lecture notes. Like an online forum, NB leverages the insights of all students to clarify ideas and answer questions at a scale that a lone teacher cannot achieve. Unlike a forum, situating these insights in lecture-note margins makes them available and draws student attention to them at the specific moment those insights are needed. At the same time, NB offers faculty a new, detailed view into student questions on the lecture material, and lets them focus their question-answering where it matters most. NB has been piloted successfully in two MIT courses of moderate size. Using d'Arbeloff funds this project proposes to improve the design of NB, supervise its deployment to a larger set of courses, and evaluate its effectiveness in improving discussion.

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Computational Design: a proposed General Institute Requirement

Eric Grimson, John Guttag

Intended as an example of a new Design GIR, Computational Design will focus on computational thinking rather than programming, although students will have exposure to the modern programming language Python. Building on the design model articulated by ECS, Computational Design uses the Modes of Reasoning framework applied to computational reasoning. Learning to “think like a computer scientist” will require students to fundamentally address issues of modularity, abstraction, complexity, scaling, approximation, uncertainty and modeling. The new subject is built on the work already done on 6.00 and is intended to serve non-EECS students from all parts of the Institute.

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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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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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Coordinating the MIT Mathematics GIR Curriculum

Haynes Miller, Gil Strang

This project proposes a substantial modification of the basic mathematics subjects taken by most MIT undergraduates, focusing on the needs of the students, the expectation of MIT faculty and new pedagogical methods. Three stages of the project are expected:

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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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Creation and Science: Learning from the Past

Diana Henderson, Jeff Ravel, Janet Sonenberg

Professors Henderson, Ravel and Sonenberg are developing a first-year interdisciplinary HASS subject that will focus on Western Europe in the 17 th century - "when modern scientific and social attitudes were just beginning." This team-taught subject will drawn on a wide range of texts, images, and performances, and demonstrate "the variety of approaches to knowledge allowed by the humanities and arts disciplines." Their hope is "to spur students' active engagement with the past and help them become more creative, sensitive participants in the present."

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Deliberate Blending to Foster Expertise

David Pritchard

Careful research shows that a critical factor in the development of expertise in domains from music to sports to chess is the amount of time spent practicing specific components of expertise, so-called "deliberate practice." The standard MIT approach to teaching 8.01 rests largely on having the students complete lots of problems. This approach does not generate conceptual expertise, in spite of the in-problem tutoring.

The aim of this proposal is to create Deliberate Practice Problems (DPPs) that emphasize deliberate practice of specific skills that experts possess. The heart of this proposal is the development and testing of DPPs targeted at the specific skills that characterize experts. Project instructors will write such problems, administer them in the blended class 8.011 (8.01 in the Spring semester), then put them in the summer edX MOOC "8.MReV" and collect student use data on them. Subsequent analysis of these data should show the possibilities of using these DPPs not only to improve performance on other DPP’s, but also to serve as test questions for expertise. Sophisticated psychometrics will be used to investigate two hypotheses: (1) DPPs of a specific type do in fact require separately identifiable student skills, and (2) different specific problem types designed to inculcate a particular expert skill show significant transfer between them, suggesting that they address the same skill.

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Design across Scales

Meejin Yoon, Neri Oxman

This project proposes to create an undergraduate-level course that will allow students across all schools and majors collectively to understand, explore and contribute to the significant design challenges of our time. Design education is evolving to acknowledge the transformed status of design itself. The scope of design has expanded to include a broad range of scales and disciplines, shifting from the production of objects to the design of experiences, services and larger social frameworks. Designers are no longer exclusively committed to design autonomous objects (buildings, cars, furniture and household products, medical devices), but rather are conceiving and testing whole ecologies of design experiences (robotic construction systems, transportation systems, health care experiences, water distribution, and clean energy). The scope of design ecologies is so broad and so integrated with other disciplines that traditionally trained designers are ill equipped to tackle the new breadth of design tasks at hand. Designers must collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to design the experiences, environments and implementation strategies for realizing design in today's increasingly complex world.

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Developing Online Communication Instruction in Engineering Laboratory CI-M Subjects

Clark Colton, Donald Sadoway, Suzanne Lane, Andreas Karatsolis, Howard Silver, Felice Frankel

MIT’s communication requirement provides the backbone for the learning of how to develop, evaluate, and integrate oral, visual and written communication by requiring each student to take two subjects designated as communication-intensive in SHASS (CI-Hs), and two in their majors (CI-Ms). The CI-M subjects, however, are often fast-paced laboratory classes in which students also need to learn new concepts, methods, and techniques in their field, as well as design and complete experiments and analyze results. Consequently, class time is at a premium, with time for communication instruction competing against time for other crucial instruction.

To address the constraints of class time and the different levels of student preparedness in CI-M subjects, and to develop a more coherent and consistent approach to communication instruction, the project will design and implement a comprehensive system of online modules for teaching communication. This project will create a limited set of online communication instructional modules for two engineering laboratories. Because students will be able to access this instruction outside of class, it is expected that the modules will allow instructors to deliver better-targeted and more interactive communication instruction without increasing the amount of in-class time devoted to such instruction.

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Development of a New Undergrad Subject in System Safety

Nancy Leveson

While engineers are increasingly designing and operating very dangerous systems, almost no education is provided about how to do this safely. Engineering students are traditionally taught a little about redundancy and increasing the integrity of individual components, but nothing about the other ninety percent of system safety and about preventing accidents that arise from interactions among components and not simply individual component failure. Perhaps because safety engineering was a grassroots movement that came out of industry in the 1950s, and not the universities, classes on safety engineering and system safety were never developed. Although reliability has always been important in research and teaching in universities, most of safety engineering has to be taught to engineers once they get on the job. This project proposes to develop of an undergraduate class at MIT and curricular materials that could be used at other universities to teach engineering system safety.

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D-Lab: Discovery

Amy Smith, Jose Gomez Marquez, Victor Grau-Serrat, Gwyn Jones

This project will address the need for a D-Lab class targeted specifically at first-year students, and therefore propose a new class, D-Lab: Discovery. This class will focus on developing creative problem-solving skills, while themes in international development will provide the backdrop to the creativity exercises. D-Lab: Discovery will be taught by a team of instructors who are currently teaching the different D-Lab classes, bringing together a broad range of backgrounds and problem-solving styles. The class will be taught as a series of several modules, each based around a particular theme, and each teaching different aspects of creativity or problem-solving and prototyping skills. At the beginning of the semester students will investigate creativity itself, and will apply their creativity in a variety of media, including drawing, language, sculpture and design. Later in the semester, students will explore the use of different materials, such as wood, metal and plastic. Finally, students will apply their creativity to specific problems within the context of international development.

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Digital Arts Learning Studio

John Maeda

project website

A deeper perspective on art—and artistic self-expression—for the technology-minded student can best come through participation in the immersive learning environment specific to the atelier, and the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment experienced through a public exhibition of work. With physical space at a constant premium on the MIT campus, the answer to providing such experiences—particularly in the digital realm—suitably lies in the virgin territory of online space. Thus we intend to realize a Digital Arts Learning Studio and associated d’Arbeloff Student Art Gallery, as a new form of online community experience for any MIT student wishing to participate.

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Digital Learning in MIT Junior Lab

Sean P. Robinson, Gunther Roland

The 8.13/8.14 Junior Lab sequence is one of the core elements of the MIT Physics undergraduate curriculum, introducing students to the art and science of obtaining, analyzing and communicating experimental data. For many students, Junior Lab becomes one of the formative steps in their career. It is also a microcosm of the MIT experience: Ultimately rewarding, but challenging and with a somewhat daunting reputation of consuming all available time.

This project proposes to reshape the learning approach of the MIT Physics Junior Lab by embedding this residential laboratory class in the edX framework. The goal is to improve the efficiency of student learning of core skills in experimental science, while enhancing the students’ lab experience. The collaborative nature of the edX platform will allow this project to impact physics lab instruction on a wide scale even outside of MIT. While often seen as a content delivery tool for non-­‐residential audiences, edX also holds great promise for residential learning environments.

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Discover Engineering: DME

Kate Thompson

Discover Engineering is a parent organization for a series of immersive freshman seminars aimed at providing an introduction to the engineering disciplines and improving the quality of the freshman year at MIT. Each seminar has five main components: a hands-on project where the students build a device related to the sponsoring department; a competition or activity involving the device; daily breakfast and lunch with department faculty, staff, alumni, graduate students and upperclassmen; tours of departmental research labs and brief research presentations; and an excursion to a related off-campus institution.

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Discovery in the Lecture: A New Teaching Modality

Emanuel Sachs, Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers

The goal of this project is to bring discovery into the lecture – that is for the students to discover concepts in engineering science for themselves. Prof. Sachs will work with the lead instructors in four core engineering science subjects in Mechanical Engineering. In each subject three or four key concepts which are difficult to teach by conventional methods will be identified. Simple in-lecture experimental hardware will be developed which will allow the students to make observations, discover relevant variables and begin the task of formulating quantitative relationships. These sessions will be run in Rm 3-370 which has recently been renovated to facilitate both lecture and exploration in a single class session. It is hoped that periodic experience with in-lecture discovery will: i) provide a mechanism for learning difficult concepts, ii) illustrate to the students that they can create knowledge themselves and that this approach leads to better retention (hypothesis), iii) implicitly teach the scientific method, iv) provide "stealth education" in engineering by exposure to well designed and engaging hardware.

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The Education Triad

Jaime Devereaux and Peter Schulman

The Undergraduate Association has been working to promote the Infinite Connection and its expansion by making funds from the d'Arbeloff Grant that we received for this academic year available to a variety of existing student groups. In order to assist groups in their existing efforts to involve alumni in their events, we opened the funds to proposals from living groups and student activities by publicizing the availability of the funding and resources.

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Embodied Computation for Interaction with the Real World: Scalable, Exportable Lab Kits for Embodied Systems

John Leonard, Una-May O'Reilly, Nicholas Roy, Daniela Rus, Seth Teller

project website

We are developing a robotics project course with the goal of introducing students to the key aspects of interfacing computation to the physical world. Specifically, this project course is a hands-on introduction to robotics. Our class robots will employ some of the most advanced techniques for perception, navigation, and manipulation to cope with unknown environments, negotiating intricate paths, adapting their next move to obstacles, finding useful objects in the environment, and using them to build a structure. This work will provide our students with the foundations for creating computer systems that interact with the physical world, leading the way from PCs to PRs (personal robots). During lectures, the students are introduced to the basic concepts in robotics, focusing on the mechanical and electronic principles behind building robots and on the classic algorithms, architectures, and theories behind controlling and programming robots. Topics include: motion planning, geometric reasoning, kinematics and dynamics, state estimation, tracking, map building, manipulation, human-robot interaction, fault diagnosis and   embedded system development. The students build a robot in teams using a robot building kit. The students receive structured instructions for putting their robot together during labs in the first part of the term. This robot is then used to implement the algorithms discussed in class in the context of the course challenge task.

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Energy, Environment, and Society: An Interdisciplinary, Project-Based Program for First-Year Students

Jeffrey Steinfeld, Jefferson Tester

As part of a linked set of curricular activities on "Energy, Environment and Society" for first year students, a 9-unit community project-based subject will be offered in the Spring of 2007.    In this class, students will explore energy issues and community dynamics at the local level - on the MIT campus, and in the cities of Cambridge and Boston.    Staff in the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment will work with community contacts to develop project ideas that are of concern to community leaders and that have potential to affect local energy management.   First year MIT students will be involved in all aspects of project design - from the refinement of research questions to conclusions and presentation of findings.

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Enhancing Residential Design Learning with a Web-enabled Approach

Daniel Frey

The MIT course 2.007 “Design and Manufacturing” has a long history of teaching MIT students core engineering skills in a context wherein they can express their creativity. This project is an initial step in exploring the connection of 2.007 and MITx. Most existing MIT subjects can be transitioned to Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) formats at roughly the effort of developing a new course. 2.007 “Design and Manufacturing” is a more difficult entity to scale on the internet, but that it is possible to do and worth the extra effort. It will create a distinction and competitive advantage for MIT in this space. This project wants to hold firm to the principle that every student getting the “2.007 experience” should design and build a robot. This is done via a residential experience with a well-equipped lab and supervision of skilled lab technicians, but this project's hypothesis is that it can be done in a very different way connecting CAD, “art to part” means of production, and a web of design advising. This project is intended to develop, over the next two years, some key ingredients that will improve the residential experience and will setup an expansion through MITx in a year or two.

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Establishing an Interdisciplinary Student-Built Satellite Design Program

David W. Miller, John Keesee, Alvar Saenz-Otero

The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) in the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AA) is leading the effort at MIT to create the first fully operational student-built satellite of the Institute. This requires establishing a multidisciplinary, student-led program with robust support from the SSL, including faculty time, funds to acquire materials, quality facilities, and equipment. The faculty currently contributes their time and expertise and has obtained funding for the materials to build the satellite; this project details the facilities improvements which will enable the SSL to fully support educating student members of the "MIT Satellite Team." These facilities are especially important because the SSL seeks to create an environment where anyone with an interest in space engineering can make a valuable contribution, regardless of pre-existing knowledge level. In particular, SSL intends to introduce freshmen and sophomores to the engineering process through hands-on projects early in their academic careers, motivating them to stay in an engineering field. Creating this multidisciplinary endeavor is critical not just because of space research, but because today all parts of the engineering world focus on multidisciplinary complex systems. The SSL believes that educating students early on their carriers about these complex systems will enable them to be more successful students and allow them to be the best engineers possible.

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Establishing a Writing Fellows Program in Biological Engineering

Eric Alm, Agi Stachowiak, Jaime Goldstein

The project “Establishing a Writing Fellows Program in Biological Engineering” responds directly to the urgent need to bolster writing instruction within Biological Engineering. Graduating seniors in Biological Engineering identified written communication as the weakest aspect of their undergraduate training in the most recent exit survey: nearly half reported that their writing had not improved during their MIT studies. The Writing Fellows program will use peer tutoring to enhance the undergraduate learning experience. The project adds value to the residential experience for our students by increasing the level of face-to-face interactive instruction, and thus complements efforts to expand MIT’s reach via MITx/edX.

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Experience Engineering – “Elements of Design”

Dava Newman, Dan Frey, Jeff Hoffman, Denny Freeman, Alex Techet

Building on the recommendations of the Educational Commons Subcommittee, this project proposes further development of the Elements of Design principles and concepts. In conjunction with faculty from other Schools, the aim is to develop an experimental subject(s) that are based on best practices and lessons learned from MIT subjects as well as the best practices in academia. The curriculum development will likely use a combination of active and experiential learning with the explicit goals of fostering students’ passion, excitement and creativity and well as preparing students to take ownership of their learning experience.

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Experimental Education Textbook Series

Alexander Slocum

Few people recount with fondness a high school or early college text. As the Nation drowns in rigid standardized tests, fewer and fewer children are left behind, but how many lose the will to look ahead? For many years, the Experimental Study Group at MIT has treated students like customers, with the result that it has established a passionate learning community. ESG does often use classic texts, but they are tempered with small classes, instructor created materials, and a Socratic style to infuse passion into subjects and learning. In order to help others take advantage of the ESG-way, and help better prepare high school students for college, and college students for fun lifelong learning, ESG is developing a new series of textbooks. The initial focus is on physics and mathematics with the titles: The Birth of Philosophy and Mathematics, Physics & Sports, Physical Intelligence

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Experimental Investigations of the Charles River

David Mohrig

The planned class for monitoring the Charles River will not only establish a mechanism for students to learn about the collection and visualization of environmental data, it will also establish for them a connection to a larger group of scientists and engineers who will have participated in studying various aspects of the Charles River. Students and faculty at MIT have the relatively unique opportunity to characterize the ‘health’ of an urban river system through a systematic gathering and analysis of data from its watershed over many years. This information will be available via a class web page, allowing current students to place their results in an historical perspective and allowing interested former students to keep up on current conditions of the river.

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Explore Space, Sea and Earth Fundamentals of Engineering Design

Dava Newman, Alexander Slocum, Edward Crawley

These two pilot freshman subjects - one to be offered in Fall 2006 and the other in Spring 2007 — will combine active and experiential learning "where ownership, passion, excitement and creativity are paramount, motivating students in technical learning, and linking their learning experience to real world complex problems." The objective of these subjects is to expose first year students to design, engineering reasoning and problem solving, as well as systems thinking, teamwork and leadership development. The theme of the "Explore" pilot is based on human exploration - past, present and future - with examples and a project encompassing exploration of the sea, earth and space. The theme for students in the "FUNdaMENTALS" subject is to learn engineering fundamentals and methods of synthesis via a robotics competition.

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Exploring Black Holes

E. Bertschinger and Edwin Taylor

Exploring Black Holes introduces undergraduates and alumni/ae to the physics and astrophysics of black holes and the universe using Einstein's General Relativity theory combined with modern research discoveries. The subject has a strong online component and is offered to both MIT undergraduates and an almost equal number of MIT alumni/ae scattered over the US. This class is a practical trial of the possibilities and promise of combining personal interaction among undergraduates and instructors with the use of sophisticated online resources and close participation of alumni/ae.

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Finding & Evaluating Information

Donald Sadoway, Steve Gass, Angie Locknar

This project is designed to introduce first year students to the scientific research process and provide them with the skills necessary to find, evaluate and use information successfully throughout their educational careers. Staff in the MIT Libraries will be working with Professor Donald Sadoway to develop online modules that 3.091 students can refer to throughout the semester to learn about conducting effective searches for information, identifying and evaluating relevant sources of information in a variety of formats, and citing information properly. A small group of 3.091 students will also enroll in a 3-unit course for more in-depth instruction in these information skills.

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First Year Focus Subject Investigating Gender and Technology

Beth Coleman, Sally Haslanger, Stefan Helmreich, Abha Sur, Kim Surkan, Elizabeth Wood

This project proposes a multi-disciplinary First Year Focus subject addressing issues of gender and technology. The course will consider how gender, race, class, and sexuality play a role in the creation of new technologies and how new technologies impact social organization. It will be taught by a multidisciplinary faculty from SHASS together with visiting faculty from the Schools of Science and Engineering, Sloan, and Art and Architecture. By bringing together their diverse backgrounds in the history of media and technology, science and technology studies, gender studies, and life sciences, the MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies and affiliated Institute faculty can create new modes of teaching and learning in this emerging field. The goals of the new course are twofold: to enrich student experience in scholarship and to enhance collaborative teaching and research opportunities in this field. Gender and Technology will address the criteria for First Year Focus Subjects in HASS as well as those for Communication Intensive Subjects.

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Freshman Arts Seminar and Advising Program

Alan Brody and Michelle Oshima

This initiative fosters an environment where students can explore the arts resources at MIT and artistic expression early in their academic careers. The Freshman Arts Seminar and Advising Program (FASAP) actively nurtures freshmen in their exposure to, involvement with and creation of art, and builds upon a rich panoply of existing resources to engender a more vibrant arts community at the Institute. A primary goal of FASAP is to develop a freshman year seminar, advising, and mentoring program in the arts with extensive participation of faculty and the Council Scholars in the Arts.

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Freshman Projects in Microscale Engineering for the Life Sciences

Dennis Freeman, Martha Gray

This freshman project laboratory will be piloted in the coming Fall term, and will use hands-on projects to demonstrate to students how microscale engineering can be applied to life sciences problems. During the first half of the term, the classes will consist of a combination of brief lectures followed by hands-on experiences using both hardware and computer simulations.   During the second half of the semester, students will work in pairs to explore a research or design topic of their choice.   Professors Freeman and Gray hope to provide first year students with an active learning experience that will help   develop professional skills, introduce interdisciplinary research, and "stimulate interest in the intersection of engineering with the life sciences."

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Freshman Spring Seminar: Designing Success through MIT

Edmund Bertschinger, Dante Delaney, and Alyssa Smith

Numerous reports and surveys have recognized gaps in mentoring that occur as freshmen advance beyond first-semester advising seminars and subsequently move into departmental advising. Navigating the transition to departmental advising can be difficult and the level and quality of support vary across MIT. The basic idea of this project is to create a 3-unit spring semester seminar class, aimed mostly at freshmen, that brings in faculty and other researchers to talk about how they got to where, and who, they are today. The goals are (1) to help students develop a plan for, and increase confidence about, their academic experience at MIT and (2) to help them see each other, and their professors, as human beings who are all still figuring things out at times. We believe these goals are most effectively met in the academic context—for example, by faculty reflecting on their development as scholars and researchers, how they balance their scholarship and other parts of their lives, and how they overcame challenges similar to those faced by current students. In our experience, humanizing the faculty and their relationship with students is one of the most effective ways to improve student success.

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The Global Chinese?: Chinese Migration, 1567-2007

Emma Teng

This proposed new subject seeks to bring a new perspective to our current course offerings at MIT by treating a key aspect of globalization -- human migration -- from the standpoint of the Chinese experience. This subject will, moreover, present students with a historical understanding of this phenomenon, tracing the roots of global Chinese migration back to 1567, the year in which the Chinese Imperial government lifted its ban on private maritime trade. The tremendous global migration of the Chinese since this time has had an enormous impact not only on China itself, but also on the local societies into which the Chinese integrated themselves over the generations. This subject will thus help to elucidate the role that China -- an increasingly important nation in today's world – has played historically in globalization. At the same time, the project will critically interrogate the emergence of a new concept of "Global Chineseness" that has been much touted by the current Chinese government as evidence of China's soft power in a global age.

21F.075J (Spring 2012) on Stellar

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Global Hamlets in Performance: An Online Learning Module

Peter Donaldson, Diana Henderson, Shankar Raman

This project builds on the work of the Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive ( and the Global Shakespeare Curricular Initiative at MIT (Professors Donaldson, Diana Henderson, Shankar Raman, Janet Sonenberg and Jay Scheib). MIT has become an international leader in moving the Shakespeare educational community toward global models through these projects.

Most recently, the Global Shakespeare Project has created an online module on the highly-regarded actor/director Wu Hsing-kuo's one-man show version of King Lear. ( This is the first-ever online module in Shakespeare education to use video authoring tools and has now been successfully used at MIT and at George Washington University. The project have learned a great deal from the King Lear module, and with revision it will become one of a series of online modules that will lead to a full semester subject that can be used throughout the world.

Globalization: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Margery Resnick, Isabelle de Courtivron, Elizabeth Garrels, Shigeru Miyagawa, Emma Teng, Edward Turk, William Uricchio, Jing Wang

Globalization is a subject that combines interdisciplinary study on broad cultural issues raised by globalization, with language study that “provides specificity to the international questions raised in the course”. With guest lecturers from around the Institute, the course focuses on four different modules. “Globalization and Cultural Identity” discusses the concept of the nation. “Globalization and the politics of language” studies how languages create cultural difference, identity and other issues. “Globalization and media” addresses the impact of new media technologies on global international education. “Globalization and the Creative Arts” looks at the “translocation of creative forms from the national to global”.

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Globalization: The Good, the Bad and the In-Between

Jane Dunphy, Margery Resnick, Patricia Tang

A renewal proposal, Globalization will be taught for the second time in Fall, 2009. Globalization is taken in conjunction with a nine-unit language subject. All students in the course address the problems, as well as the opportunities, that globalization has engendered. Students are presented with a variety of perspectives from different fields. They focus on specific topics that are intellectually related and presented as a coherent whole. Faculty in the subject are drawn from four of MIT’s schools including Architecture and Urban Planning, Engineering, HASS and Sloan. The course integrates innovative project-based experience with theoretical learning; large concepts with specific examples in globalization.

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High-Speed Imaging for Physical Education

Noah Riskin and James Bales

project website

We propose to use advanced high-speed imaging techniques to create new Physical Education teaching tools and methods for new active learning opportunities for PE instructors, students, coaches and athletes, and new hands-on undergraduate research opportunities. Such tools will provide:

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Improving Residential Music Theory Education with Online Components

Michael Scott Cuthbert

Basic music theory skills—including the ability to read music, to hear music more precisely, and to compose simple pieces in diverse musical styles—are fundamental to nearly every study of music. In a process similar to learning a foreign language, developing music fundamentals requires a continual cycle of study, practice, and feedback. Students come to these classes with a variety of skills and experiences. Traditional modes of teaching music fundamentals both throughout the US and equally at MIT, require students to acquire the relevant skills all at the same rate regardless of whether or not they have previous training in these skills. Students can alternate between bored and frustrated by the fluctuating difficulty of the classes.

The vast majority of the assignments given in music fundamentals courses can be evaluated automatically, with helpful spontaneous feedback within the limits of current technology. We believe that the entire content of a music fundamentals class can be brought online within the MITx framework. There is a great demand for such a class both at MIT and throughout the United States and starting with an EdX course could have great benefits for residential education. However, this project suggests reversing these two stages; that is, creating online and self-paced components to improve MIT residential classes in music fundamentals first and then later releasing it to the world.

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Introducing First-Year Students to Engineering Systems Concepts, A Project-Oriented Approach

Joseph Sussman, Oli de Weck, Regina Clewlow

The goal of this project is to introduce the basic concepts of "Engineering Systems" to undergraduate students, with emphasis on first-year students, by engaging them in addressing complex, real-world problems, including energy, transportation, sustainability, health care, and equitable internet access and governance. The proposal focuses on the development of a pilot offering of ESD.00, Introduction to Engineering Systems, to be offered for the first time in Spring 2011. In this introductory subject, students will be taught interdisciplinary approaches rooted in engineering, management, and the social sciences to consider critical contemporary issues (CCIs). Small teams will be formed to work on semester-long engineering systems projects working with individual ESD faculty, staff and ESD graduate students to illustrate various systems concepts in the context of real world problems. The class will also meet collectively for two hours per week, and focus on introduction of engineering systems concepts to be utilized in the project and to give the groups an opportunity to learn from each other's experiences.

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Introducing Modularity in the Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Core Curriculum

Anette Hosoi, Mary Boyce, John Lienhard, Gareth McKinley

During the summer of 2011, the Department of Mechanical Engineering performed a strategic planning exercise to evaluate the current state and to plot a course for both the far- and near-term evolution of the department. One of the key exercises performed was to construct a "green field" vision of the Mechanical Engineering core curriculum. Throughout the course of these discussions it became clear that, one strong impediment to addressing these issues was the constraint imposed by the current two-semester residential sequence. This project proposes an expanded approach to the undergraduate core curriculum of the ME Department by switching to a modular curriculum in which the standard module size is six units rather than twelve. The ability to deliver some key core undergraduate courses remotely and asynchronously in a modular fashion would greatly enhance the department's ability to develop international undergraduate experiences. It would also provide the opportunity for in-depth experiences (e.g., research-based, industry-based, service-based, international) during the academic year. In addition, the increased granularity associated with six-unit modules gives increased flexibility to redistribute units among core courses providing new options to address the "overloading" issue.

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An introductory laboratory course on wearables and the Internet of Things

Joel Voldman and Joseph Steinmeyer

One of the most exciting developments in the last decade has been the democratization of electronics hardware. Previously, creating electronics projects that performed useful tasks required working with low-level components (transistors, ICs, resistors, etc.). Now, however, the introduction of Arduino and numerous other related microcontroller platforms coupled with sensors and actuators that can “plug-and-play”, combined with low-cost and frugal wireless communications makes it possible to create interesting projects quickly and at low cost. These new electronics platforms necessarily incorporate software, providing a rich set of topics across Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Our project will develop an introductory subject in EECS focused on wearables and the Internet-of-Things, i.e., interconnected embedded devices. We wish to use this course to show students how different aspects of EECS come together in the technologies that they use every day.

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Invent for the World (IFW)

Juanjuan Zhang

Course 15.812, Marketing Management, will serve as the initial platform for this project. Contrary to a common belief among many undergraduate students, marketing is not the equivalent of selling or advertising. Instead, the course will emphasize the view that marketing centers on effectively serving the varying needs that stem from different segments of society. However, "needs" can be complex even from a conceptual standpoint; they may not be readily articulated, and are often elusive to measure. As the methodological basis of IFW, the course will teach rigorous methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to identify and measure needs systematically. For example, students can expect to learn "conjoint analysis", a tool that elicits how much consumers value individual product attributes, using only data from their overall ratings of that product. The course will then culminate into the main deliverable: team-based projects that synthesize these methods, where students either propose or promote an invention that serves significant social benefits.

Invent for the World (IFW) Website

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How Culture Works

Erica James, Susan Silbey

This new subject in Anthropology, planned by the Anthropology faculty and co-taught by a team of two to four faculty every year, is designed to meet the parameters of a First-Year-Focus subject. The subject will introduce students to theoretical debates on the meaning and use of the concept of culture using historical materials and contemporary examples. It will critically engage contemporary representations of ‘culture’ in popular media and scholarly disciplines. Students will also learn empirical methods of cultural inquiry and analysis by evaluating a diverse array of materials including first-hand observations, synthesized histories and ethnographies, quantitative representations and visual and fictionalized accounts of human experiences.

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How to Stage a Revolution

Meg Jacobs, Pauline Maier, Peter Perdue, Elizabeth Wood, Jeff Ravel

In a subject being developed for Fall 2007, first year students will "explore moments of major social and political transformation throughout the world and over time." Through the intense engagement with primary sources, students will develop the analytical skills essential for success in studying history: "they will conduct their own research, make their own discoveries, and formulate their own conclusions about the historical past." The instructors of this "new breed of HASS freshman year course" hope to aid students' progression from high school textbook history learning to collegiate scholarly historical thinking and research.

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Keeping the Fire Alive: Hands-on science and Engineering for Freshman

Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis

Our concept is to introduce freshman year students to the complex and exciting world of cutting-edge technology and science through carefully designed team projects, consisting of an integrated set of lectures and laboratory work, related to on-going research in our laboratories, leading to the design and testing of a system. Most students entering MIT have a passionate interest in science and engineering, fueled by TV programs such as NOVA, popular science magazines such as Discover and Scientific American, a technical hobby such as amateur astronomy, or perhaps an inspiring teacher or science program in high school. Hence, a young student s first exposure to science and technology is often at a high level: learning about working scientists and engineers at the 'cutting edge' where the excitement, naturally, lies. The student then comes to MIT and is immersed for two semesters, a long time for a young person, in the fundamentals - mathematics and the basic sciences - that could seem like a long way off from building robots to look for life on Mars. With our proposed concept, we answer the crucial question, viz. how do you keep students interested and motivated while they learn their essential - but often dry and distant fundamentals; in other words, how do you keep the fire alive.

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Leveraging MITx to Deliver Foundational Knowledge Essential for Success in MIT’s Chemistry GIR

Matthew Shoulders and Troy Van Voorhis

Our long-term objective is to develop and implement a suite of customizable, MITx-based web resources to enhance 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science. 5.111 is one of three options for students to complete the chemistry general institute requirement (GIR), and is the largest option in terms of number of students serviced. Key challenges that we face each semester in the large, freshman-level chemistry GIRs include: (1) Efficiently and effectively delivering foundational, remedial knowledge to freshman students that are, in some cases, ill-prepared for an MIT-level chemistry course, (2) Devising strategies to increase and add value to student–faculty and student–TA interactions in a large course, and (3) Generating excitement about state-of-the-art, modern chemistry research applications of the fundamental principles presented to the students. The strategy is to develop a Foundational Knowledge Module (FKM) comprised of video lectures integrated with custom-designed problems delivered on the MITx platform. The content will be organized in a way that allows students to either review the content before beginning 5.111 or in real-time during the semester as the need arises. Because our approach leverages the MITx platform to deliver content, the materials developed will be useful not just for 5.111, but also for students requiring review material for the other freshman chemistry GIR options.

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Mapping Controversies: Preparing scientists and engineers for a complex world

Vincent-Antonin Lepinay

Being an engineer or scientist now requires a deep understanding of the political and social dimensions of science and technology. Mapping Controversies seeks to introduce students to the uncertain universe of scientific and technical research. The goal is to learn how to account for and to map techno-scientific controversies which are: rife with uncertainties and dilemmas; objects of advanced technical expertise; simultaneously entangled with legal, moral, economic and social questions. The course develops aptitudes for qualitative investigation that are complementary to the capacities of formalization, modeling, analysis and calculation required in other subjects. Above all, it teaches that science and engineering are contested terrains in which it is crucial to understand stakes, resources, alliances and varied scientific cultures to engineer new diplomatic solutions. Funded by Class of 1960.

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"The Meaning of Life"

Graham Jones, Heather Paxson, Stefan Helmreich

"What is the meaning of life?" This is a question of singular importance to college students, young adults who are immersed in new experiences and influences, making critical existential decisions about their professional aspirations, personal relationships, and social values. MIT students come to this question from an especially diverse range of cultural, national, ethnic, and class backgrounds. This project will design a new Anthropology class that addresses these issues directly, foregrounding the relevance of the humanistic social sciences to our students by spotlighting topics of universal concern — love, faith, wealth, honor, etc.

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MathMix: Computer - Aided Teaching of Mathematics

Professors Jerison, Miller, and Strang

project website

The goal of MathMix is to revitalize the basic mathematics courses at MIT; these include Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra. Almost all MIT students take these courses in a lecture-recitation format, and with adequate resources and effort, this mode could be radically altered and improved. We hope to maximize the effectiveness of our teaching by the introduction of active learning techniques, group work, and the creation of a suite of classroom demonstrations. These applications of technology enable us to convey mathematics at a more visual and conceptual level.

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Measurement, Instrumentation, Control and Analysis (MICA)

Ian Hunter, Lynette Jones, Barbara Hughey

The proposal provides desired improvements in equipment used in an existing Mechanical Engineering undergraduate project-based course that will allow the testing methodology and equipment to be more broadly used in educational activities. Upgrading the functionality in the MICA hardware and software is a major advance in permitting students to select the phenomena they wish to measure, analyze and possibly control. The specific objectives of this proposal are to develop a small quantity of experiments in the two physics GIRs, 8.012 and 8.022 (in addition to the Mechanical Engineering subjects in which it is already used). It is anticipated that the use of the system can be expanded to other undergraduate courses at MIT.

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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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Meta-Media: Enhancing Media Literacy

William Uricchio, Pete Donaldson and Kurt Fendt

project website

MetaMedia provides students and faculty with a flexible online environment to create, annotate, and share media-rich documents for the teaching and learning of core humanistic subjects. Faculty can build subject-specific mini-archives to extend the use of the multimedia materials in the classroom and thus further pedagogical innovation. Based on open standards, the MetaMedia framework allows the formation of learner communities across disciplines and distances and ensures interoperability with a wide range of current and future media resources.

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Mission 2005: Solving Complex Problems

Kip Hodges

project website

This year's grant has enabled the second offering of 12.000 (Mission 2005) this semester. Sixty-two students attended the class, and we had 21 teaching fellows. Forty-three alumni mentors were recruited with the assistance of Diana Strange and Andy Eisenmann. Although not funded through this d'Arbeloff Grant, Maria Shkolnik provided superb administrative support through Academic Services. There is an intensive assessment component to this experiment spearheaded by Alberta Lipson; this fall's activities included interviews and surveys of the current students as well as alumni of Mission 2004.

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Mission 2006: Solving Complex Problems

Kip Hodges

project site

This year's grant represents the third installment of funding for 12.000 (Solving Complex Problems). Each year, a group of freshmen are given an assignment that requires them to apply multidisciplinary thinking to address a difficult problem. This year, approximately 70 students will be charged with developing strategies to monitor the Amazon rainforest ecosystem and design a program to preserve it. The subject includes a unique blend of case-study andproject-based learning that involves the collaboration of faculty, upperclassmen, graduate students, and alumni with the freshmen registered for the subject.

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MIT Data Diggers: Uncovering Data across the Institute

Ezra Glenn, Eric Klopfer

This proposal describes a new way for undergraduate students at MIT to engage in statistical analysis and data visualization across a variety of topics. In brief, the project would establish teams of interdisciplinary undergraduate "Data Diggers" charged with making sense of interesting data sets from across the Institute, cleaning them, and rendering them meaningful (and beautiful) through the use of exploratory and inferential analysis techniques and tools. At the end of each semester, the results of these explorations will be presented at a grand, celebratory "Dig-In."

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An MIT Revolution in the Undergraduate Teaching of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science

James DiCarlo, Michale Fee, Laura Schulz

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is undertaking a major revision of its undergraduate curriculum and culture of teaching. The most recent visiting committee identified weaknesses in our educational program as the primary problem to be addressed by the incoming department leadership. There were three key issues: 1) the degree of overlap in the material covered across classes; 2) the failure of upper level classes to build on introductory material and progress to more advanced topics, and 3) a lack of quantitative rigor, leaving students inadequately prepared for advanced coursework.

The challenge is to show how undergraduates can be deeply educated in: key phenomena about the mind and the brain, quantitative methods for describing the mechanisms that underlie those phenomena, the procedures by which we discover new phenomena and new mechanisms, and the myriad connections of that knowledge with fields including physics, biology, engineering, mathematics, linguistics, and economics. Concomitant with this curricular challenge, the project will establish a culture of excellence in teaching within our department, similar to the successes of other great MIT departments.

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Mixed Learning Modules for Global Shakespeare

Peter Donaldson

This proposal builds on two ongoing projects at MIT, the Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive ( and the Global Shakespeare Curricular Initiative, as well as on the leadership position MIT has achieved in moving the international Shakespeare educational community toward global models through these projects. Through these efforts they have been able to collect extensive video materials with permissions to publish on the web, and can draw on the active participation of scholars in many countries in transforming education at MIT. This project will use and extend the archive and draw on the expertise of MIT Literature and Theater Arts faculty and external collaborators to enhance education at MIT by creating a set of on line teaching modules for use in the Global Shakespeare curriculum that is emerging here at MIT. Professor Donaldson will deliver these modules on their servers and, ideally, on OCW to be shared more broadly with the rest of the world.

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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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Molecule Builders: The First Freshman Design Experience in the Chemical Sciences at MIT and in the United States

Bradley Olsen

MIT was the first university to issue an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and is arguably the first university in the world to found a department in this discipline. However, underclassmen report continued difficulties in understanding what Chemical Engineering is and what Chemical Engineers do, and there is a general lack of excitement about the curriculum relative to peer departments in the School of Engineering. We propose a new class in Chemical and Chemical-Biological Engineering entitled “Molecule Builders.” This subject aims to provide a supervised maker space that introduces students to the applications of engineering design at the molecular level, the very definition of Chemical Engineering. Students will be exposed to the basic principles of molecular-level engineering design using hands-on approaches supplemented by a few lectures. Students will complete an open-ended design project, several of which will be related to national or international competitions in which teams will be invited to participate after completion of the course. Students will also be introduced to the professional and societal roles of chemical engineers, exploring the products chemical engineers design and make, meeting practicing chemical engineers, and learning about how engineering education provides opportunities for their future growth and development.

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A Multidisciplinary, Service-Oriented, Project-Based Course in Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Robert Miller, John Leonard, Julie Greenberg, Grace Teo, William Li

Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology (PPAT) was founded in 2011 by Professor Seth Teller (1964-2014), who taught it for the past three years as a subject in EECS. Under his leadership, student teams worked closely with a person with a disability in the Cambridge/Boston area to design and engineer technological solutions that help them accomplish a specified task. To sustain its vision in the long term, we will extend PPAT into a truly multi-department, multi-disciplinary effort. We are deeply, personally committed to sustaining and extending assistive technology education at MIT. We have assembled a dedicated, enthusiastic team of faculty members and instructors from across the Institute to make PPAT possible in 2015 and beyond.

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Museum Lab Seed Funding

John Durant, Allan Doyle, Seth Riskin

Through a new activity, the Museum Lab, the MIT Museum will make its unusual range of learning opportunities in the area of communication available to undergraduate students. The proposed project will establish Museum Lab around a core of academic courses, at the heart of which is a fall 2011 remodeled science communication course (STS.034) co-taught by John Durant and a small interdisciplinary team with complementary expertise in science communication, exhibition development and multi-media. IAP pilot courses in 2011 and 2012 will provide testing opportunities for ongoing course development and the development of assessment and evaluation tools and rubrics. Ongoing UROP projects will provide a stream of museum technology projects that will feed the Museum Lab courses with subject matter and tools. The overall objective is to set in place a course model for Museum teaching and learning that will enrich both the MIT undergraduate curriculum and Museum outreach.

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Music and the Supernatural: Witches, Magi, and Ghosts

Ellen Harris, James Howe, Charles Shadle

The new subject focuses on the relationship between Music and the Supernatural with particular emphasis on the social context of historical supernatural beliefs as reflected in key musical works of the western tradition from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Taught by faculty and lecturers from Music and Theater Arts and Anthropology, with guest lecturers from Comparative Media Studies, Literature and Foreign Languages and Literature, this interdisciplinary approach offers the opportunity for students to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the complex cultural traditions and situations in which they will find themselves in their work. The class will introduce some of the approaches to inquiry found within the humanities, arts and social sciences through the examination of a wide range of texts, visual images and performances.

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The Music Technology Laboratory

Eran Egozy

In order to develop a compelling undergraduate educational program in music technology, a laboratory is required to function as the center for teaching, research, and course development. This project will enable the modest beginning of a new Teaching and Learning Lab at MIT and will enable undergraduate projects in music technology that require specialized hardware or software, and create a new class in music technology that teaches the fundamentals of music processing.

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On-Line Experiential Program of Experiments in Human Psychology

John Gabrieli

MIT's "Introduction to Psychological Science" course presents to about 250-300 MIT undergraduates with current scientific knowledge about human nature, including the relation of brain and behavior, perception, learning and thinking, development, social behavior and personality, and psychopathology and psychotherapy. A central theme of the course is how well-controlled laboratory experiments can reveal scientific evidence about the human mind. Many of these experiments are computer-based, and could be experienced directly by these students via an on-line program that would allow students to try these experiments, see their own performance, and relate that personal, hands-on experience to the themes discussed in the lectures and in the textbook.

The project involves the design and programming of an on-line web-based series of mock experiments in which students perform the experiments as if they were participants in a research study, and then see how their own performance relates to (1) the original findings of the experiment and (2) the average of their classmates. Experiments would be selected as modules related to major components of the course.

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On the Shoulders of Giants: Reexamining the pre-Modern Roots of the Modern World

Anne McCants, Arthur Bahr, William Broadhead, Sally Haslanger, Rae Langton, Steve Ostrow

On the Shoulder of Giants proposes developing a new integrated domain of study at MIT that explores the contributions of classical forebears on the present and how their contributions to knowledge continue to provide the impetus for much of what is progressive in the modern world. The realization of the importance of ethics to the formation of students; the importance of reaching beyond ourselves to other worlds and times; the crucial role of language-learning in the contemporary world; all point to the need for rethinking the ancient and medieval heritage of the West in ways that cross cultural, geographical and disciplinary lines. Initial d’Arbeloff funding allows the development of several of these subjects for introduction into the curriculum. Funded by Class of 1960

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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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Pilot study for a case-based, tutorial mode core curriculum in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Hal Abelson, Eric Grimson, Gerald Jay Sussman

This project is a one-year pilot investigation, intended to lay a foundation for transforming the EECS core curriculum- 6.001, 6.002, 6.003, and 6.004 - to a new structure, where students work in small groups under the direction of tutors to pursue a case-based introduction to electrical engineering and computer science. The inspiration for this approach is Harvard Medical School's "New Pathways" transformation of its first- and second-year curriculum. The pilot hopes to demonstrate the intellectual feasibility of using a case-based approach with a small experimental version of 6.002 in spring 2003.

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Portable, Wireless Computing for 2.001-2.005

Sanjay Sarma and Mary Boyce

Just as the calculator is now an indispensable tool of the trade for mechanical engineering practice, we believe that personal computers and laptops will become the trademark of the engineer of the future; he or she will be able to quickly use a CAD system to design a new component and share it with their peers, generate CNC tool paths using a CAM system, instrument and control an electromechanical system using a data acquisition system, or analyze a structure or a flow using a finite element system. Recognizing this reality, the department has decided to weave the use of mobile computing platforms into everyday teaching.

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Proposal for Study of Wireless and Mobile Computing

William Mitchell and Susan Yee

The goals of this project are (1) to document experience with wireless and mobile computing at MIT, and in the Department of Architecture in particular, (2) to extract some useful general conclusions about the relationship of mobile computing to patterns of space use in a university setting, (3) to specify the associated educational benefits, and (4) to produce a well grounded publication (and associated PowerPoint) of results that will be useful to architects, planners, computer and networking specialists, and educational policy makers who are interested in this issue.

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Public Service Design Projects at MIT

Amy Smith and Kim Vandiver

project website

Student enterprise, applied learning, and public service are the bases of our initiative, as we introduce two new programs to MIT: service learning and the IDEAS competition. This initiative will enrich the educational experience and create an expanded community of service at MIT. Service learning, the practice of integrating public service projects into academic course work, has been offered in ten MIT classes this year. We are also highlighting the excitement of creative public service with the IDEAS competition in the spring. IDEAS, an acronym for Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service.

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Redesigning Academic Information Delivery

Mary Enterline and Kim Vandiver

project website 1
project website 2

This project's objective is to define what information students and advisors need and make the best use of information technology to deliver that information. By improving online information we will save students and advisors valuable time that can be used to develop stronger mentoring relationships, and we will ensure that all students and advisors have access to reliable and up-to-date information.

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Reigniting thermodynamics education through hands-on learning and interactive web applets

Cullen Buie

Almost all courses in MIT’s Mechanical Engineering core curriculum have a lab component that gives students hands-on experience. However, the traditional thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics courses in the department no longer have laboratory components. These classes cover three of the most critical aspects of a mechanical engineer’s education. In spite of their importance, these classes are also among the most unfamiliar and counterintuitive concepts. We realize that students have many interests but we would like to ensure that they have working knowledge of common systems in thermal-fluids engineering. To address this issue, our project will make these courses more hands on and interactive, allowing students to tie together theory and practice.

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Residence-Based Advising

Julie Norman, Elizabeth Young, Dan Chapman and Leslie Bottari

Residence Based Advising (RBA) is a pilot that seeks to enrich the first-year experience. Now nearing the middle of its second year at MIT, RBA focuses formal advising support in the living group, where it can compliment the valuable informal advising provided by peers, with the goal of making resources more easily accessible to students (and first-year students, in particular). In a sense, RBA seeks to unite the two major support networks for first-year students: the freshmen advising system and the residential community.

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Stefan Helmreich, Caroline Jones

"The firehose" is a metaphor born at MIT that conveys the speed and volume of available information – yet it also imagines a flow that necessarily rushes by and risks putting out the fire of curiosity. This project aims to address the need for deeper, sometimes slower thinking, through an intense but thoughtful encounter with the richness of scholarship generated by a research university. By means of a cross-disciplinary subject we hope to stoke the intimate and cumulative processes that Goethe celebrated as "tender empiricism."

This pedagogical inquiry directly addresses the concept of "subject" that underscores the educational organization of MIT "courses" as disciplinary regimes. This project proposes to renovate subject as a rubric that can cut across courses, while nonetheless conveying the rigor with which different fields approach a common topic. In this case, the thematic topic is Resonance which will explore sonic phenomena from various acoustic, biological, cultural, technological, historical, and cognitive perspectives. Students will engage with the material together in the classroom, but will be required to produce a personal final research project to consolidate their learning and further hone distinctive inter-, trans-, and disciplinary interpretations of the acoustic.

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Second Nature: Designing Low Power Environmental Sensor Networks

Sheila Kennedy, Joseph Paradiso

This project explores the conceptual, technical and physical design of low power environmental sensors and wireless networks in urban areas. The course will focus on how sensor networks are transforming global efforts in natural resource conservation, and in the preservation of natural ecologies in traditional and rapidly growing cities and urban areas. Second Nature is an exploratory, interdisciplinary project-based course that is founded in the MIT credo of mens et mana. Organized as an interdisciplinary lecture class with a “hands-on” workshop component, Second Nature will enhance the educational experience of undergraduate students in a unique project-based course that integrates the cultural and historical contexts of architecture and urban design thinking with the fabrication of technically advanced sensor based design projects for environmental monitoring and the next generation of environmentally responsible infrastructure.

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Solving Real Problems Using Systems Thinking and Design

Sumi Ariely, Dan Frey, Paul Lagace, Chris Magee, Camilla Shannon, Amy Smith, Sally Susnowitz, Joseph Sussman, David Wallace

In a collaborative effort, the department of Mechanical Engineering, the Engineering Systems Division, and the MIT Public Service Center will develop a new subject for the Spring of 2007, that will combine instruction in systems thinking and design skills with service-oriented hands-on projects to build appreciation for the broader roles of engineering in society. The project sections of the subject will provide students instruction and experience in solving hands-on, exciting, and socially important design challenges."

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Stronger Collaborative Skills: Helping MIT Students and Faculty Identify and Strengthen Basic Collaboration Skills

Eytan Modiano, Jennifer Craig, Qinxian Chelsea Curran

Designed for an MITx platform in order to enhance the residential experience, the online module, Stronger Collaborative Skills, can be used as either a stand‐alone module that allows students to review and strengthen their collaborative skills or as part of an academic course assigned by an instructor as part of the curriculum. Targeted at first­‐year students, the module includes 5 chapters that are based on research done with students and faculty in Course 16 in 2008. The chapters include brief discussions of decision-making, conflict management, project management, the role of interpersonal skills, and guidelines for high quality collaborative writing and presentation.

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Studio Physics

John Belcher and Andrew McKinney

project website

Studio Physics is a new format for freshman physics education at MIT that is designed to help students develop much better intuition about, and conceptual models of, physical phenomena. The format is centered on an active learning approach - that is, a highly collaborative, hands-on environment, with extensive use of networked laptops and desktop experiments. We are using modern animation and applet technology delivered via laptops to complement this active learning approach. We are merging lecture, recitations, and hands-on laboratory experience into a technologically and collaboratively rich experience for incoming freshmen.

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The Supernatural in Culture, Literature and Music

Ellen Harris, James Howe, Charles Shadle

The subject, taught for the first time in Fall, 2007, focuses on the relationship between Music and the Supernatural with particular emphasis on the social context of historical supernatural beliefs as reflected in key musical works of the western tradition from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Taught by faculty and lecturers from Music and Theater Arts and Anthropology, with guest lecturers from Comparative Media Studies, Literature and Foreign Languages and Literature, this interdisciplinary approach offers the opportunity for students to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the complex cultural traditions and situations in which they will find themselves in their work. The class will introduce some of the approaches to inquiry found within the humanities, arts and social sciences through the examination of a wide range of texts, visual images and performances.

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Vikash Mansinghka

TBP Teach is a Tau Beta Pi-led effort to develop a substantial unified curriculum covering ''engineering fundamentals'' material as well as ''gentle introductions'' addressing gaps in the introductory offerings from several engineering departments. This curriculum will be presented to students in two ways: through a comprehensive web site containing lecture notes, interactive problem sets, and other learning tools, and a series of not-for-credit IAP courses, based on the web materials, that will meet for two hour sessions, four times each week, for two weeks. Our pedagogical approach will involve making explicit the intuitions and problem-solving heuristics used by experts, giving students practice in articulating the key concepts, and presenting material in the context of real-world case studies wherever possible. Our IAP class series will include an emphasis on group problem solving in addition to opportunities for getting questions answered in depth. We hope our IAP courses will be useful as a source of review for current engineering undergraduates and that our written material will be useful to teachers and students both at MIT and worldwide as a source of coherent presentations of key concepts.

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Teaching Computation in Studio, Course 1.00

Steve Lerman and Jud Harward

project website

The new curriculum stresses a hands-on approach to computation to reinforce 1.00's traditional focus on algorithms and data structures as a means to engineering problem solving. 1.00 students now develop software in Java on laptops using an integrated development environment. They program and debug, demonstrate problems and brainstorm solutions in class. They bring their problems to office hours on a running laptop. Tutorial groups of four to six students have replaced the former large recitation sections. Students are paired by sharing a laptop computer for the term.

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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. /p>

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Visualizing Cultures

John Dower and Shigeru Miyagawa

project website

We will create a large database of visual images of Japan from 1853 (when Commodore Matthew Perry forced feudal Japan to abandon its “closed country” policy) to the present. With this project, we aim to transform undergraduate education in history from the predominantly text-based approach to one that integrates historically significant images in a systematic manner. These images of Japan in the context of world history will provide new insights into the social, cultural, political, and historical significance of events in which Japan played an active role. Through such graphic perspectives, it will become clear that there is no one “Japan.” Rather, the country and its people are associated with a multitude of constantly changing identities. We have created a new course with the same time, and the entire content will go up on OpenCourseWare this fall. Along with the web site, we have created a traveling exhibit of images; the exhibit opened in Newport RI in July 2003 during the Black Ship Festival. A number of other U.S. cities have requested the exhibit. We have begun the work of establishing collaborative relationships with institutions that have extensive collections relevant to our work, including the Boston MFA, Smithsonian’s Sackler Museum, University of Tokyo, and Nagasaki University, to name a few.

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The War at Home: American Politics and Society in Wartime

Adam Berinsky, Christopher Capozzola

The War at Home, an interdisciplinary subject in MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, will be designed and co-taught beginning in Fall 2010 by Professors Adam Berinsky in Political Science and Christopher Capozzola in History. They will seek to help students acquire knowledge about the impact of war on twentieth- and twenty-first-century U.S. society and equip them with the analytical skills from the humanities and social sciences they need to think systematically about war and its place in American politics. Designed to function equally as a "gateway" subject for future majors and minors, as well as a broad survey for students who will not do further coursework in these disciplines, The War at Home offers a rich addition to the curriculum in SHASS and the Institute as a whole, and a model for First Year Focus classes that may be adopted in the future.

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When Engineering Gets Big: Building Faster Highways Inside Cities and Computers

L. C. Kimerling, Herbert Einstein, Andrew Whittle

This subject introduces students to three threads of learning with which to deconstruct the apparent complexities of Big Engineering projects: large-scale, modern engineering ventures that rely on the “integration of multiple science/engineering disciplines, executed through a distributed workload that involves specialized teams interacting over an extended production timeline”. The three threads of learning are: a technical toolkit; a social science toolkit; a methodology for problem-based learning. Initial projects include two Big Engineering projects: the Big Dig – the highway project for the City of Boston and “The Integrated Circuit (IC) Chip – the Intel Corporation’s Core 2 Duo microprocessor for mobile computing. The goal of the subject is to introduce first-year students to an appreciation for the “interdisciplinary nature endemic to massive 20th and 21st – century engineering projects”.

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Wireless Portable Computing in the Design Studio

Bill Mitchell and Susan Yee

The grant provides 50 wireless laptops for one year and supports the installation of wireless access points within the Department’s studio spaces, presentation areas, and cafe. The goals of the project are to gain a better understanding of MIT's rapidly evolving wireless infrastructure and to find innovative ways to enhance studio and classroom learning, through practical experimentation with the technology in use. It is clear that universities will be moving very rapidly towards heavy reliance upon student-owned wireless laptops, and we need to understand the implications of this for design education. The wireless laptops have been the main delivery mechanism for StudioMIT.

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